Saturday, 18 November 2006
There's a lot of hype about this new James Bond movie. Some of it is just wrong. I was flipping channels today and heard some guy say that the James Bond series is the longest running film series of all time, with 20 movies in 44 years. Immediately I thought of Godzilla movies: 28 movies in the last 52 years. Then there's the Zatoichi series: 26 films in 27 years all starring Shintaro Katsu as Zatoichi. Throw in Takeshi Kitano's Zatoichi and you get 27 films in 41 years. Then there are the Tora-san movies, 48 of them in 26 years! The Guinness Book of World Records acknowledges that the Tora-san series has more movies in it than any other series does.
Godzilla has Bond beat in number of movies and in years — tied in years if you count the 1954 episode of Climax! which adapted Casino Royale, but there's no reason to count that. It's not a movie. There were Zatoichi and Godzilla television series also, so they still win. Zatoichi and Tora-san have the Bond series beat in number of movies but not in years. There are more than twice as many Tora-san movies as Bond movies, which ought to count for something.I see there are something like 47 Charlie Chan movies, too, made in a period of 23 years. That gives even Tora-san a run for his money.
People have been telling me that they like the photos of Gracie in front of the TV. I like them too. I like the real thing even better. Alice and I went to the movies last night (The Departed) and it was weird not to have Gracie poking her head in front of the screen.
The Departed was only so-so. Infernal Affairs was better, partly because it was simpler and shorter. There are so many betrayals and double-agents in The Departed that I wondered if they hadn't meant to make A Scanner Darkly instead but got confused somehow. The Departed doesn't really look much like a Scorsese movie, which was surprising. I made an effort to see it on the big screen but I probably needn't have bothered.
More boring movies: Equilibrium is basically a rip-off of Fahrenheit 451 with bits thrown in from Nineteen Eighty-Four, Brave New World and The Matrix. In Fahrenheit 451 they burn books. (I'm not sure why. It wasn't explained in Truffaut's movie, which I also thought was boring. I had to watch it for Bernard Herrmann's score, though.) In Equilibrium they burn everything that may trigger an emotional response: books, art, music, etc. Some of the emotion-stirring contraband that the resistance fighters are hoarding is a bit surprising. I noticed a "Ped X-ing" sign, for instance, with those black, round-headed figures of people. I suppose that Pez dispensers, cans of soup, marbles, dust bunnies, parking tickets and extension cords are also outlawed. Dogs are forbidden, and the whole cast is upstaged by a puppy who appears about halfway through the movie.
I had wanted to watch Deadfall for a while, mostly because of John Barry's soundtrack. Michael Caine plays a jewel thief who wants to rob this one guy's house that appears to be burglar-proof. Previous attempts have ended in the deaths of the thieves. At one point, Caine robs a different house while we see John Barry conducting a performance of a concerto for guitar and orchestra he composed for the film.
Deadfall has a promising beginning but not much ends up happening in it. I found it hard to sit through. I guess I'm not a fan of the director, Bryan Forbes. He also made Seance on a Wet Afternoon, which I also found hard to sit through. John Barry fans will enjoy seeing him at work in Deadfall, though I don't think the score is one of his best. It does have a few good cues, and some music from his soundtrack to Beat Girl is used in a party scene.
Thieves' Highway is not a bad movie but it suffers when compared to its source novel, Thieves' Market, by A. I. Bezzerides, who also wrote the screenplay. The book was a vision of a hell in which two truckers descend further and further into desperation, squalor, agony and evil. The movie skirts around the edges of this but keeps things much more wholesome. It's nicely photographed, has good music by Alfred Newman and is well directed by Jules Dassin but too much of it will seem ludicrous to anybody who has read the book. It's no Wages of Fear, that's for sure.