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Old 01-04-2021, 07:30 AM   #2641
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A young girl in a slick Tokyo club (RIn Takanashi) is arguing over the phone with her suspicious boyfriend. Then she is met by the club manager (Denden), who after doling out some life advice asks her to go for a job. We realize she's a part-time prostitute, he's the pimp. She wants to pass on it, as she has exams and also a visiting grandmother that wants to meet her at the railway station before returning back. The manager is polite but firm: the client is someone he respects deeply, and she is the right type for him. While taking a long-distance cab to the client's place, she asks the driver to circle the railway station a couple of times where she observes a woman that may be her grandmother. She lets off some quiet sobs, then falls asleep in the cab while it ferries her to the client. Expecting a high-profile politician or tycoon, she is surprised to find that the client is a comfortable but definitely middle-class retired professor...who also happens to be her grandfather's age.

After having made several notable Iranian films, Abbas Kiarostami went full international to make films in French (Certified Copy) and Japanese (Like Someone in Love). I haven't seen the former, but what strikes me best about LSIL is how much it appears like a film made by a modern Ozu - The respect for spaces and silences, the formal conversation, inner thoughts expressed in glances and in tangential remarks. Of course, Kiarostami's previous landmark films are also noted for their circumlocutory approach.

The introduction scene of the girl is important to what happens next. The professor (Tadashi Okuno) has obviously planned a romantic evening with sparkling wine and fine food (perhaps this refined academic wants to soften the idea of a hired tryst), but after some ice-breaking conversation, the emotionally exhausted girl just flops into bed and falls asleep. Sighing resignedly, the old man tucks her in, as a grandparent would. The next day we see him driving her back. We don't know if at any point in the night (or early morning) they do the deed she was called for. LSIL, like other Kiarostami films, features a lot of riding around in cars (not Fast and Furious fashion, mind).

When she gets off at the university, she is met by the boyfriend who assumes the old man to be her grandfather, and the professor plays along. The young man expresses his views about women in general and the girl in particular, exposing deep insecurities. But he also warms up to the old man's advice about trust in love, which renews hope in his relationship with the girl, and even offers to fix a problem in the car at his garage. At a slightly later point the young man realizes the actual relation between his girlfriend and the professor.

LSIL is a chamber film, and compared to some of Kiarostami's older classics, even slight. It quietly exposes certain emotional situations. and leaves the consequences for the viewer to imagine; in that modest aim, it does well. The film is anchored mainly around the 3 lead performances (the girl, the professor, the boyfriend) and the actors come across wonderfully. In the little that I saw of the making, Kiarostami talks about how Tadashi Okuno had been previously only an extra, not even having any lines. As the girl's pimp, veteran actor Denden in a single scene makes a big impression.

Kiarostami's speciality is understatement, and A/V-wise LSIL is quite modest, shot on digital video and with a front-loaded soundtrack (LPCM 2.0 / DTS-HDMA 3.0 on the disc). The blu-ray can be assumed to be an accurate representation of the director's intention. There is a 45 min making of with inputs from the director, which I have yet to see in full. While not essential viewing, LSIL is a nice example of the director trying out small experiments in new settings.

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Old 01-04-2021, 07:53 AM   #2642
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Definitely check out Certified Copy. The UK blu should be fairly cheap to get.
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Old 01-04-2021, 09:38 AM   #2643
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Doesn't look cheap now, and in any case I can't order at all from Amz UK. No items are available for shipping to India.
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Old 01-04-2021, 12:05 PM   #2644
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Doesn't look cheap now, and in any case I can't order at all from Amz UK. No items are available for shipping to India.
Ah ok, had not realised. FWIW, Certified Copy is one of his most playful and experimental films.
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Old 01-07-2021, 09:27 AM   #2645
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Last night I watched the Eureka blu of Iron Monkey. Of course, it wasn't my first time with the film, since I own the HKL 2-DVD SE of this martial arts classic about a Robin Hood style do-gooder Iron Monkey, who raises the hackles of the oppressive establishment but wins the hearts of the poor people. Ip Man star Donnie Yen has a parallel role as another martial arts expert Wong Key-Yin who is forcibly sent to capture Iron Monkey to save his son Wong Fei-Hung (yea, THAT guy, here as a child, actually portrayed by a young girl). Iron Monkey won't win any awards for layered plot or in-depth characterization, but it is an immensely entertaining action feature with some wonderful set-pieces. Wire-assisted or not, the stars put on an impressive display of moves (watch Yen deliver multiple kicks to his opponents, especially one bravura overhead shot where he cycles around kicking away 4 guys coming in from different directions, without putting his foot down in between). Produced by Tsui Hark and directed by Yuen Wo-Ping, the film is technically very solid with attractive visuals. Give or take a little, I found it as entertaining as say Jackie Chan's Legend of the Drunken Master (which I sincerely hope Eureka will have a chance to put out).

From an A/V standpoint the Eureka release is a massive win. It's a true HD image with rich, balanced colors. The audio options are humongous, with multiple language mono and surround mixes, all lossless. Since I've already seen the film multiple times with Chinese audio and subs, I decided to go with the English dub. I started with the 5.1 mix, but shifted to the mono, finding it more balanced. Using the English dub also removes the English translations for the Chinese signboards in the film, so some context may be lost if it's your first viewing. For extras, Eureka port over all of the HKL set material other than the Bey Logan + Donnie Yen audio commentary, so people who want it must retain their DVD copy.

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Old 01-08-2021, 07:09 AM   #2646
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Last night I saw Pioneer on the Arrow Films blu-ray. The protagonist of the film, Petter (Aksel Hennie, who would never be given a lead role in a Hollywood film), is Norway's star diver in a joint test mission with an American group to install an oil pipeline at the bottom of the sea for offshore drilling. During the course, a freak accident occurs, which leads to the death of Petter's brother, also a diver on the mission. Fighting guilt over possible responsibility in his brother's death, Petter investigates the matter (and this is where the casting is brilliant, because the actor doesn't have the star charisma that make audiences automatically root for him - in fact early on one thinks he may be looking for someone to blame to assauge his own guilt). But he finds a lot of doors being closed in his face, and even some attempts on his life. The challenges he faces in trying to ascertain the cause of the accident form the major crux of the film. As the story deals with a Nordic-American collaboration, the film has a mix of Norwegian and American actos, and Avatar's beloved evil colonel Stephen Lang plays a pivotal role.

Pioneer is not exceptional as a suspense/noir, but remains fairly solid with some (heh) immersive moments in its diving sequences. The pacing is mostly measured and low-key, as are the performances. The underwater scenes are excellently shot and there is a lovely moody electronic score from the French duo Air.

Arrow Films' (which is apparently a different company than the one that handles the Arrow Academy and Arrow Video labels) blu-ray is very solid in the technical presentation. Underwater, with its limited lighting and inherent murk, is never a great showcase for video quality, but we have a very strong presentation here.
The original post was almost 7 years ago. I revisited the film last night, the first time after my surround upgrade couple years ago. While my 4.1 setup is still not taking full advantage of the 7.1 mix included on the disc, the soundfield is vastly more immersive now, especially during the underwater sequences (in combination with the visuals you get a great sense of the depth and density of the water medium), and ones where the weather is stormy. Even in indoor scenes there's a good bit of collateral ambience in the rears. It made the film a little more interesting to me, although I'd say after a point its script becomes a little too muddled and vague for the film to be really great. One little peeve is that for a film that has both Norwegian and English dialog, there is only one set of subtitles, which even provides subs for the English dialog. It would have been nice to have the option of a subs track that only covered the Norwegian dialog. There are zero extras here, which is disappointing for a film which would have had some interesting shooting challenges.


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Old 01-10-2021, 04:53 AM   #2647
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Some time ago, a dear friend passed on an extra copy of the Waterworld LE set he happened to get in his mail. Recently I put on the 3 hour Ulysses cut. It is actually my first time with the movie, since previously I had just gone with the media circus that went on about the film being a shipwreck, at least in the theatrical cut. In this long version, the tone is unsteady and the writing leaky, but this was far less of a soggy sinker than I was expecting, and with the aid of a few rum and tonics, the 3 hours passed without much pain. Some parts even have a Terry Gilliam feel and Dennis Hopper has fun with his bad guy bit. Even with its quirks and failings, I think on the whole this movie had more personality than something like Speed, which was the big hit of the time.

Excellent transfer on the Arrow disc, the limitations being mostly those of the optical effects (I believe only a limited amount of CG was used for this film). The 5.1 surround is less forceful than modern day blockbuster tracks but generates sufficient atmosphere and raises excitement in the action sequences.

Maelstrom, the feature length making of docu on the Waterworld disc is the sort of detailed post-mortem you rarely get in these days of mutual back-patting puff pieces. A tremendously (ha!) in-depth piece starting right from when original writer Peter Rader proposed it as a Mad Max ripoff for Roger Corman's company and was refused because it would cost "5 million dollars". The cast, including lead star and project pusher Kevin Costner, we see only in archival interview bytes, but several of the major BTS crew are on hand, including Rader, director Kevin Reynolds, producer Charles Gordon, exec producer Ilona Herzberg, Production Designer Dennis Gassner, DoP Dean Semler. We get a sense of how massive the production was, and the immense logistic challenges it involved, especially during open sea filming, how the focus of the press on the film's budget created a negative air around it. The tension between Reynolds and Costner is broached, but in a diplomatic way about it being a tough time for everyone (which is fair, considering only one voice is on hand). Also interesting is the bit about how the original Mark Isham score was dumped because it was too dark and made the makers jittery about using it in a tentpole action film, and so James Newton Howard was brought in to deliver a more traditional adventure score (It would have been interesting if that score could have been repurposed as an alternative audio option, even as an isolated music track, assuming it was complete).

An absorbing and comprehensive piece, and a very worthy addition to the disc.


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Old 01-14-2021, 04:23 PM   #2648
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Quoting my blog review:

Quote:
I had seen Jeannot Szwarc's 1980 fantasy romance Somewhere in Time (SiT) and fallen in love with it. Last night I revisited it when I felt like indulging in some Christopher Reeve.

SiT is scripted by Richard Matheson, based on his own 1975 novel 'Bid Time Return'. The movie has a 'meh' rep from several critics including Roger Ebert and my favorite fantasy film reviewer Richard Shrike. To be sure, the brickbats are not unfounded. The mechanics of time travel are pure bunkum - no particle physics or quantum mechanics at play here, you just will yourself strongly enough to be in a specific time (right down to the exact date) and pouf, there you are!

Playwright Reeve is the one that undergoes this bargain-basement DIY form of time travel, in search of an actress (Jane Seymour) he has fallen in love with from a vintage photograph. Well, not just that; it appears that he has previously encountered this woman, albeit a much older avatar in which she pressed a fob watch into his hand with the words, "Come back to me". Although his effort to track the woman in the present reaches a literal dead-end (she having passed away some years ago), Reeve is convinced that they somehow knew each other in 1912. Armed with some decidedly hokey advice from a philosophy lecturer, alongside a vintage-era suit and a few coins of the period, he embarks on the trip through time to meet the love of his dreams at a specific moment in the past.

As previously stated, there is zero science to the process, and even after the time travel has occurred, the expected anachronism plays little part in the events that follow. But to the people that love this film (and there can be no two ways about it, either you love it or you think it's tosh), this doesn't matter a whit. The core engine powering SiT is a chaste, delightfully old-fashioned and therefore timeless romance between Reeve and Seymour, that works like poignant wish-fulfillment. Reeve was not the most versatile actor, but when he played a gentleman, be it as a super-powered Kryptonian or this dashing scribe, he conveyed a wonderfully warm chivalrous presence few other actors can hope to match. And Seymour's actress is his equal: she has on her side ethereal beauty, complemented with a rare grace and suggestion of deep inner passions.With chemistry like this, who cares about narrative superficiality and hansom-sized plot holes? Christopher Plummer is the third angle, as Seymour's manager who is obsessed with his protege's career on the stage and sees Reeve only as a danger to his precious find. It is suggested, though never substantiated upon, that Plummer may know more than he lets on about Reeve's sudden entry into her life. All three (along with John Barry's memorable score and Isidore Mankofsky's evocative cinematography) give life to a film that shamelessly, but also gloriously, defines romantic melodrama.
People who liked this film (and/or Matheson's novel) should check out Ken Grimwood's 1987 book Replay, which may have been inspired by this, but takes the idea to another place altogether, and was justly included in publisher Gollancz's Fantasy Masterworks series.

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Old 01-15-2021, 11:12 AM   #2649
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Adding a few words about the blu-ray:

Universal's blu has a decent transfer in general, but I suspect significant improvements could be made. The film was shot with separate negative stocks for the present and past segments, and I feel that especially the past segments don't look as film-like as they should have. I'm hoping a new scan can work some real magic in that department and it'd be great if a Kino / Arrow / Shout could be given a chance to work on the film elements. The DTS HD 2.0 is clear enough for the dialog and sound effects, and gives a strong presentation of John Barry's lush score. There's nothing here that DEMANDS a surround track, although the optional inclusion of a respectful remix would not be a bad thing. For extras we have a lovely hour-long retrospective that talks to the principal cast and crew (this may have been originally made for the DVD release, Chris Reeve is also on hand). Everyone has warm memories of the making, and it feels genuine. There is also a small piece on INSITE, which is, I kid you not, the International Society for Somewhere in Time Enthusiasts. These are a bunch of fans that got together to celebrate and cherish the film, and they have a website, and hold conventions and tours of the film locations. It all seems like good-natured kooky fun. There's a director's commentary, which I haven't checked out as yet, and the film trailer. While I do hope that the future brings us a refreshed release, the current blu-ray is a very decent way to watch (and re-watch) this utterly lovely paean to the lovelorn.
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Old 01-18-2021, 07:50 AM   #2650
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Last weekend watching was mainly devoted to two middle-of-the-road cinema ventures - Khatta Meetha & Middle Class Melodies, both showing on Amz Prime

Khatta Meetha (a re-watch for me) is the 80's humorous drama from Basu Chatterjee where two elderly widowed Parsis (Ashok Kumar and Pearl Padamsee), each with a set of children, decide to get married, and the fractious consequences that arise from their decision. The film follows the period of adjustment where the kids on each side are both annoyed with their parent's decision to remarry and rebel at the idea of sharing their space with a bunch of strangers, but eventually come to accept each other as one big household. Apart from the two families, the film also provides an affectionately funny look at Parsi customs and quirks (as opposed to the empty caricature of Parsis as comic relief seen in many other Hindi films of the 70's and 80's). Ashok Kumar was a subtle and versatile actor that was badly undermined by popular Hindi cinema's tendency to typecast and write caricature parts - His late career mannerism was even spoofed by the likes of Johny Lever. but Basu Chatterjee gives him a terrific part in KM, and he makes the most of it. A notable scene is where he goes to the rich tyrant father of his (step) son's love to ask that he stop harassing the family. In a single shot monologue he presents feelings of timidity, fear, anger and familial love; a masterclass of acting.

Middle Class Melodies is one of a new breed of Telugu movies that is not about glorifying misogynistic machismo, and hopefully will encourage more of such ventures. It is an ensemble drama with at least half a dozen major characters who are introduced to us in the first 20-25 min. The ostensible hero (Anand Deverakonda) is the son of a mofussil caterer who wants to start his own hotel in the more lively Guntur. I say ostensible because each of the major characters (Anand's parents, his best friend, the girl from school he has feelings for, her father) has their own 3-dimensional character and trajectory in the layered script, where numerous threads criss-cross with each other. Varsha Bollama as the girl is not just an empty romance angle, and the actress proves herself superbly in scenes like when she is desperately trying to get her mobile recharged so she can pass on an urgent message to Anand, or when she expresses her disappointment over his selfish obsession with the hotel. Chaitanya Garikipati is not just the hero's comic relief best buddy, and has a dramatic arc separate from Anand's. Some judicious trimming might have reduced the film's sprawling runtime (and there is some slack in the middle portions, while the end seems a little hodge-podge), but even as is, MCM is a charming narrative with relatable characters that will be appreciated by people who liked films such as Maheshinthe Prathikaram / Uma Maheshwara Ugra Roopasya, Kumbalangi Nights etc.

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Old 01-18-2021, 09:25 AM   #2651
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Ravenus; it is very interesting that you should mention Khatta Meetha. I took glimpses of the film, too; over the weekend. Ashok Kumar sure does deserve all the acclaim he can get for his restrained portrayal in this film. I would also take a moment to appreciate Pearl Padamsee's underplayed depiction of a middle-aged mother belonging to a middle-class family. In Hindi cinema, seldom would you find an impression of a parent that was so believable; especially in that era. She contributed a lot to the world of theatre.
Very interesting tidbits in the film: actor Ranjit Chowdhry plays the role of Ashok Kumar's son; is actually the son of Pearl Padamsee. Similarly, Preeti Ganguly was Pearl's daughter in the film; and she is the real-life daughter of Ashok Kumar. Sadly, both these star kids are no more.

Rohit Shetty revamped Khatta Meetha's central plot for his film Golmaal 3. Was wondering if you would like to give that movie a watch someday.

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Old 01-18-2021, 11:19 AM   #2652
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raghuuvir View Post
...I would also take a moment to appreciate Pearl Padamsee's underplayed depiction of a middle-aged mother belonging to a middle-class family. In Hindi cinema, seldom would you find an impression of a parent that was so believable; especially in that era. She contributed a lot to the world of theatre.
Very interesting tidbits in the film: actor Ranjit Chowdhry plays the role of Ashok Kumar's son; is actually the son of Pearl Padamsee. Similarly, Preeti Ganguly was Pearl's daughter in the film; and she is the real-life daughter of the Ashok Kumar. Sadly, both these star kids are no more.
Yes, Pearl was very good in the film, and has nice chemistry with Dadamoni. She did very few films since she was, as you rightly pointed out, mainly a stage personality. Apart from KM, I remember her in Baton baton mein, and I think she was also in Shyam Benegal's Trikal. I knew Preeti was Dadamoni's daughter but didn't recollect that Ranjit was Pearl's son. That's a nice piece of trivia.

Quote:
Rohit Shetty revamped Khatta Meetha's central plot for his film Golmaal 3. Was wondering if you would like to give that movie a watch someday.
Perhaps one day when...

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Old 01-20-2021, 12:11 PM   #2653
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I think I might have seen it before when I made my way through Arrow's wonderful release of My Darling Clementine but Frontier Marshall, which so far is only available in HD as a bonus feature on the LE of that film is worth talking about. Made several years before MDC, FM has the same basic plot of the friendship that develops between famous gunslingers Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, and the added complication when an old flame of Doc re-appears in his life. FM is not as majestic and measured as John Ford's justly more celebrated film, and has more of a fill-the-program vibe, but within that limitation, it's actually pretty good, with some spiffy writing and professional work from leads Randolph Scott and Cesar Romero. The latter is more famous as the Joker from the 60's Batman TV series, but he is quite good here as the brave but morose and suicidal Doc Holliday.


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Old 01-22-2021, 04:22 AM   #2654
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So last night I saw A Breed Apart. This was actually passed on to me by a friend, who got 2 copies in the mail or something like that. From the cover, I assumed it would be one of these cheap Mad Max ripoffs, and kept it on the side for long, but on watching it turns out a different kind of film.

Rutger Hauer is a loner eco-warrior that lives on his own island, and once a week picks up supplies from single mother store-keeper Kathleen Turner. Rutger is not all there in the head, and in the form of helicopter blade and combat sounds, references are made to Vietnam PTSD. He also takes very serious note of anyone hunting on his island as some redneck poachers find out. The other major character is of Powers Boothe, a mountaineer that is hired by a kooky millionaire (Donald Pleasance, in a nice cameo) to steal some prized eagle eggs from Hauer's island for his collection.

A Breed Apart subverted my expectations of it. I thought Hauer would be a Rambo type, but the script allows for a more human and damaged portrayal of the character, and Rutger's the right man for the part. Boothe's character is also layered - he is playing a long con to get a shot at stealing those eggs but he also saves Hauer's life on a couple of occasions and develops a gradual friendship with him. Turner's character is comparatively undercooked, especially considering the actress' potential, she mostly seems to exist as a foil between the men. The film is more of a drama than the actioner represented on the cover, and apart from nudity in the sex scenes could have been a well made TV movie of the week - part of this may have to do with the fact that the stunt budget was cut off during production, and there are rumors about missing reels (but the short director interview included on the disc makes no such mention). The happy ending is also a little pat. But on the whole it was a nice diversion from the usual.

The transfer on the BD is a 2K IP scan, and works alright. Closeups are good in detail, but mid to distant shots look softer, there is some black crush and grain is not optimally managed. The DTS-HDMA 2.0 audio is decent, but not hugely immersive, especially for a movie set so much in the outdoors.

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Old 01-24-2021, 05:55 AM   #2655
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Batla House on Prime

There are some good bits, but the glaring insertion in a film supposedly based on news reports, of preposterous "action scenes", an item number (where for some reason everyone in the audience is dressed in lab coats) and a courtroom climax where much scenery is chewed by a sneering defense lawyer (Rajesh Sharma) in a bad Suhel Seth wig, bring Batla House down to mediocre streaming fodder level. This scores lower than D-Day for me.

Also, even in a movie where he mostly keeps his shirt on, why does John Abraham always walk like he just bench-pressed 500lbs? Take a break sometimes, dude.

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Old 01-24-2021, 08:49 AM   #2656
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ravenus View Post
Batla House on Prime

There are some good bits, but the glaring insertion in a film supposedly based on news reports, of preposterous "action scenes", an item number (where for some reason everyone in the audience is dressed in lab coats) and a courtroom climax where much scenery is chewed by a sneering defense lawyer (Rajesh Sharma) in a bad Suhel Seth wig, bring Batla House down to mediocre streaming fodder level. This scores lower than D-Day for me.

Also, even in a movie where he mostly keeps his shirt on, why does John Abraham always walk like he's just bench-pressed 500lbs? Take a break sometimes, dude.

To be fair to John Abraham... he said in one of this film's promotional interviews that the real DCP Sanjeev Kumar Yadav is a man of very few words and is very expressionless ... guess enacting him came naturally for the wooden wonder
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Old 01-25-2021, 07:27 AM   #2657
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My first exposure to The Spy Who Came In from the Cold (TSWCIFTC) was in a BBC audio drama adaptation of the book, that runs approximately an hour longer than the film. I have to say, with that additional hour, the drama packed in a greater element of credibility and depth than this nonetheless admirable film did.

John Le Carre's story deals with Alex Leamas, an apparently down on his luck former secret service operative, discharged after a disastrous operation in which one of his agents in enemy territory was killed when defecting to the west. While Leamas is working a barely-paying library job (and accepting the friendly advances of his fellow employee Nancy, an ardent believer in communism), he is picked up by an East European agency looking to persuade him to part with important covert information for a fee. This is in fact a ruse, and Leamas is working on the advice of his superiors Control and George Smiley, as a double agent leaking out false information that will betray the trust of Mundt, a dangerous agent from the enemy side. It is imperative for the success of the plan that the enemy must believe they are extracting this information from an embittered defector, and so Leamas must live the part of a hard-drinking self-loathing reluctant traitor.

As I recall, in the audio drama, the reveal of Leamas being a 'double agent' comes out gradually in the form of repeated flashbacks to when Smiley is advising him on the strategy to be followed. The film puts it up quite early, and there is no ambiguity about Leamas' position. But till he is actually contacted by the enemy, he must for all intents and purposes be nothing other than a perpetually intoxicated bitter failure. Into this sad lonely existence, the affections of his library colleague come as a warm breeze to the man perpetually "out in the cold" and even as he otherwise faithfully plays his part, he cannot resist getting into a relationship. And it is then that the enemy gets in touch.

The next phase of the drama is when Leamas is passed on from one handler to another, each probing him for information and stringing him along with a bottle, and promises of payment and asylum. He is eventually met by Fiedler, a Jewish party member with a grudge against the former Nazi Mundt. In a careful series of revelations, bolstered by frequent temper tantrums and demands for his payment, always making it look like he is parting with the information against his conscience, Leamas plays Fiedler.

In a conventional spy thriller, this deception would have a triumphant climax with Leamas redeemed as a hero. But both Le Carre in his book and director Martin Ritt in his film adaptation looked to present a more murky reality of espionage and without being explicit, one can say that Leamas in turn finds that he may himself be a pawn in a larger game. The ending is a poignant tragedy that makes the story far more memorable.

Although Richard Burton's theatricality still occasionally surfaces in the lead role, his real life struggles with alcohol (and stressful marriage to Liz Taylor) play into his identification with the part. Plus, he is able to convey a certain charisma even in a disheveled state, making Nancy's attraction to a drunk loser more plausible. The direction is mostly understated and Oswald Morris' gritty B&W cinematography effectively captures the murky proceedings. Also worth mentioning is the Sol Kaplan score.

Criterion's A/V presentation is quite solid, although I get the impression this is not a spanking new HD scan (even for the time of release). I have seen only one extra, the interview with John Le Carre, who apart from writing the book, was also a part of the production, brought in to "re-write" Burton's lines and effective act as a buffer between him and Martin Ritt. This extra alone is worth the price of admission. Le Carre truly knows how to tell a story, and he is very candid about the entire process of how he got involved with the film and his impressions of the final product (which go way beyond discussing faithfulness to the source). One of the best interviews Criterion has ever snagged.

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nitin (01-25-2021)
Old 01-25-2021, 07:53 AM   #2658
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ravenous, have you seen the more recent A Most Wanted Man and/or Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy? Can recommend both if you havenít and if you enjoyed The Spy Who Came in From the Cold
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Old 01-25-2021, 10:25 AM   #2659
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TTSS - I have read the novel, seen the Alec Guinness Mini-series (Also seen the sequel mini-series Smiley's People) and the Gary Oldman movie.
Haven't seen Most Wanted Man.
I had also ordered Deadly Affair, but it twice got lost in transit and I left it as a jinxed affair.
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Old 01-31-2021, 01:27 PM   #2660
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I avoided seeing Virumaandi around the time of its original release. The general buzz of the film and Kamalahaasan's look made it seem like a lower-rent sequel to Thevar Magan. But that's actually not the case. While taking place in a similar setting of warring clans, Virumaandi takes inspiration from Rashomon to depict two different versions of events that occurred. Of course, since one of them is from the POV of the titular character (played by Kamal who also wrote and directed, and did his own playback singing), we are not meant to be in any dilemma about which version represents the truth. In that sense, VM is a more evolved version of the 80's/90's revenge potboiler in which the hero framed for crimes he didn't commit, gives us his flashback so that he has our sympathies while handing out comeuppance to the villains that did the framing. VM also bears messages about capital punishment and saving the environment, but they're not core to the narrative.

While its 3 hour sprawl does eventually lay heavy (and the climax featuring large objects and people being catapulted over prison walls takes away from the human drama) it is surprisingly nimble for most of that period, deftly edited with some excellent framing (of the visual kind). As an actor Kamal plays to his own strengths (he's obnoxiously old for the hotheaded youth character, but in Indian cinema that's a given for most star vehicles), and there's good support from the other cast.

Showing now on Amazon Prime. The print scanned has a lot of damage in certain scenes, and for a "THX certified" film, the sound is quite rough in parts. And at least for me, there was a lag period between the dialog and the subtitles.
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