A group of rogues steal a scroll granting its bearer the property of the land of Aurocastro in Apulia (south of Italy). They elect a shaggy knight, Brancaleone from Norcia, as their leader, and decide to get possession of this supposedly wealthy land. Many adventures will occurr during the journey. Continue reading
Noted modernist German filmmakers Daniele Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub are behind this evocative minimalist retelling of the tragic story of Empedocles, a Greek philosopher and statesman who lived in the fourth century BC. To prove himself a god and therefore, immortal, Empedocles hurled himself into the burning caldera of Mount Etna and survived. There are four slightly different versions of the film available.
This charming film, made when Oliver Reed and Diana Rigg were at the height of their appeal, is what they used to call a “romp”, when it wasn’t considered to be a putdown. Reed, as Ivan, born and bred to lead an international group of highly-placed assassins, is hired by would-be reporter Sonia (Rigg) to have his group kill him, and realizing that his house badly needs some cleaning out, Ivan accepts the commission. The rest is a whirlwind tour of Europe, taking out substantial portions of the terrain as they go, avoiding bungled attempts on his life as he tries to track down the traitors who would turn the Bureau into a political machine. The dialogue is refreshingly devoid of political correctness, but maintains a firm respect between the unlikely couple as they go from bickering rivalry to bickering fondness. Guest villains include Clive Revill as a gluttonous Italian, and sad stories include the accidental demise of Roger Delgado (Dr. Who, the first Master) while on location. Much worth the time and effort Continue reading
Humphrey Bogart plays Fred C. Dobbs, down-on-his-luck American in Mexico—he cadges the odd peso out of friendly passersby and countrymen, just so he can fill his stomach every now and again. He pals around with Curtin (Tim Holt), and after the two of them get cheated out of their wages by an American unethical even by the standards of this film, they exact their revenge, but their pockets are still empty. At the local flophouse, they overhear talk of an old codger called Howard (Walter Huston), who promises that in fact there is gold in them thar hills. If only they had enough scratch to buy the necessaries, they could be making themselves a fortune. Continue reading
After her brother was killed by a notorious all-female pirate gang, Morag dedicates her life to bringing the murderers to justice. Soon, she has become an important member of the pirate gang and has begun acquiring the loyalty of key members. Eventually, she makes her move and challenges the leader, a demi-god (literally), known as “The Daughter of the Sun.” The story of Noroit is based on an early 17th-century tragedy by Cyril Tourneur, and, though it is only the third one filmed, the movie is the concluding episode in a four-part series by director Jacques Rivette. Continue reading
Film review by Philip French
Saturday 26, May 2012
Wes Anderson’s films – seven of them since his debut with Bottle Rocket in 1996 – constitute a consistent oeuvre. They’re comedies tinged with a certain tragic sense of life. Various actors recur, most notably Jason Schwartzman as a geeky young man, Luke Wilson as a quirky thirtysomething and Bill Murray as a middle-aged curmudgeon. The films pursue groups of eccentric figures who make up families of a kind generally characterised as “dysfunctional”, invariably attracting references to Tolstoy’s dubious claim that happy families are all alike and unhappy families are unhappy in their different ways. They’re also exquisitely composed and lit and accompanied by an interesting, often surprising choice of music.
Initially I had reservations over Anderson’s whimsicality and wilful cultivation of the irrational. I was eventually won over by his last feature but one, the beautiful The Darjeeling Limited, in which three American brothers are brought together on a train journey across India a year after their father’s death. Continue reading
This book is set in Scotland and certainly has a Scottish feel to it, with its mountains, castles and golden eagles, though the country is not specified until The Mountain of Adventure, when Jack recalls observing an eagles’ nest at a castle in Scotland. It is the Easter holidays and Jack, Philip, Dinah and Lucy-Ann are on holiday with Mrs Mannering at Spring Cottage, which is set on a hill below a castle. Out on the hillside they meet Tassie, a local girl who lives in a tumble-down cottage with her mother and is allowed to run wild. Tassie cannot read or write but has a deep knowledge of animals and the countryside. She is excellent at climbing, sure-footed and has a good sense of direction, relying on her instincts to guide her: “She was more like a very intelligent animal than a little girl.” Indeed, with her bare feet, ragged frock and amazing agility she seems to be a part of the wild landscape around her — rather like a sprite or a wood-nymph. Perhaps because he too has a rapport with animals, she latches on to Philip and even brings him a fox-cub, which he names Button. The children’s happiness is complete when they discover that Bill Smugs is on a job in the area and plans to visit them soon. Continue reading