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Sabotage

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***

sa-botage sà-bo-tarj. Wilful destruction of buildings or machinery with the object of alarming a group of persons or inspiring public uneasiness.

Sidney & Homolka, Sabotage © 1936 MGM Home Entertainment.

Sidney & Homolka, Sabotage © 1936 MGM Home Entertainment.

I did not realize that this adaptation of The Secret Agent was actually a follow-up to Alfred Hitchcock’s prior film, The Secret Agent. Fortunately I have that movie on DVD as well, so I can watch it whenever I get the chance. While this movie is adeptly shot, it was pretty predictable. This lacked some of the charisma that the jerky guy and put upon woman combos from The 39 Steps and The Lady Vanishes. Those films surprised me, while this one hit the buttons I expected and I do not think that this is because all three take place in pre-World War II culture of anxiety that rightly existed in late 1930s England.

There is one scene of note, that hinted at something he would master later. Dealing with the emotional trauma of losing a child Mrs. Verloc–Sylvia Sidney–turns in on her self while her husband–Oskar Homolka–explains how she must move on since it had been a few hours. Her laughter warms the heart and chills the soul. When she returns to her husband the tone of the film has changed while he fails to realize it. A nice trio of scenes without a solid film around them.

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Daily Film Beauty: Ran

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Ran: Asakazu Nakai, Takao Saitô, and Shôji Ueda (cinematographers) & Akira Kurosawa (director).

This is a later Kurosawa film adaptation of King Lear.

This was mislabeled Kagemusha End when I found it.

The mad emperor of Japan descending towards two unfriendly armies, © 1985 Greenwich Film Prods.

Daily Film Beauty: Zodiac

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Zodiac: Harris Savides (cinematographer) & David Fincher (director).

Early 1970s San Francisco in Zodiac, © 2007 Paramount Pics.

Early 1970s San Francisco in Zodiac, © 2007 Paramount Pics.

Interstellar

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****

 We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars, now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt.¹

Yeah, so I cried near the end of the movie, big whoop, want to fight about it? I have seen every Christopher Nolan, except Following, and really liked every one. I do not remember any of his films bringing me to tears, though. Anyways, I saw the previews for this, figured that I understood this, thought it looked fine and went to see it, even though it was about two hours forty minutes. While I prefer Christian Bale—Batman of the 2000s—to Matthew McConaughey—Dallas Buyers ClubI thought that McConaughey did a very good job playing a father and astronaut.

Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) in a space suit. Spoiler alert, Cooper winds up leaving Earth in a movie called Interstellar, © 2014 Legendary Pics.

Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) in a space suit. Spoiler alert, Cooper winds up leaving Earth in a movie called Interstellar, © 2014 Legendary Pics.

Since much of this film takes place in outer space, the natural comparison falls to Gravity. This has more to say and looks almost as good. The better comparison is to Inception. While Inception has better pacing, better action and equally good acting and special effects, there are lots of good movies that could be described as such. Since this has Jessica Chastain, who played the mother in The Tree of Life, it is worth noting how this, like The Tree of Life, has a slow, earthy feel and pace. Literally, dust coats almost everything. Unlike that grand failure, this conveys a message and, for the most part, fills it run-time with interesting scenes.

The biggest let down in the film is how little time Cooper–McConaughey–spends deciding to leave his family and planet: about 7 seconds. One might think that with a title like “Interstellar” that an exodus must happen, but this is about 45-50 minutes into the damn film. Why should I care about the life he leaves behind if Christopher Nolan does not see fit to show me that it matters to Cooper. Ardent defenders of this film could argue that his behavior after helps demonstrate that this decision was not made lightly, but there are always people who suspend disbelief just so far as necessary to like, or hate, a film.

As for the difficult ethical and mental issues, those can either be explored for days, or totally ignored. Regardless, this movie can be enjoyed by everyone, so long as they can handle a slow build with good acting.

 

¹ I could have gone with the Dylan Thomas quotation that Michael Caine’s Dr. Brand fancies so much, “Do not go gentle into that good night; Old age should burn and rave at close of day. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” While it is a powerful statement, I did not think it was the dominant message of the film. Also, WWE 2k15, has advertisements with John Cena saying the exact same thing. For some reason that lessened its impact on me…

Daily Film Beauty: The Empire Strikes Back

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Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back: Peter Suschitzky (cinematographer) & Irvin Kershner (director).

Darth Vader (David Prowse) dueling with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), The Empire Strikes Back © 1980 Lucasfilm.

Darth Vader (David Prowse) dueling with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), The Empire Strikes Back © 1980 Lucasfilm.

Daily Film Beauty: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

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The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance: William H. Clothier (cinematographer) & John Ford (director).

Ransom Stoddard (James Stewart) and Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin), © 1950 Paramount Pics.

Ransom Stoddard (James Stewart) and Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin), © 1950 Paramount Pics.

 

Daily Film Beauty: The Sweet Hereafter

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The Sweet Hereafter: Paul Sarossy (cinematographer) & Atom Egoyan (director).

The Sweet Hereafter, © 1997 Téléfilm Canada.

The Sweet Hereafter, © 1997 Téléfilm Canada.

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