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127 Hours * Danny Boyle (2010)

My first ‘film on demand’ was “127 Hours”, a film that had been on my list for a while. I must say that this ‘film on demand’ is quite a nice function for digital tv. They have another few titles that I want to see (most of it is rubbish). The only thing is that it is quite expensive. In any case, “127 Hours” is about a young man who travels alone and gets stuck in a cliff for… 127 hours. Imagine that, 5 days! His arm is crushed by a boulder when Aron falls into a cliff. This leaves him, of course, with almost no space to move. The rock obviously is not going anywhere and Aron makes an inventarisation of what he has in his backpack. Inspite of climbing material such as ropes, nothing that helps him getting out of awkward position. Aron proves himself realistic in his situation and inventive as well and he is not ready to give up. Of course the film can be but little more than filming Aron in his cliff, but since he (of course) starts to reflect upon his past and becomes illusionary, Danny “Trainspotting” Boyle has the freedom to add flashbacks and other scenes. The larger part is just Aron and his boulder though. Yet, “127 Hours” is a very entertaining film. When Aron runs out of water and the battery of his camera dies, the film goes towards its inevitable climax.

Shanghai * Mikael Håfström (2010)

During WWII marine officer Paul Soames goes undercover to Shanghai because a colleague is in trouble. Shanghai is the only Chinese city not occupied by Japan, but the Japanese presence is evident and the Japanese in fact control the streets with their violent police force. Soames pretends to be a journalist and tries to work himself into the strange web connecting all kinds of (political) groups, ties that seem unlikely. He soon discovers how his colleague got himself into trouble and has to fight the currents himself. “Shanghai” has the atmosphere of a 50’ies film and the acting and story are alright, but overal it is not a that interesting film. A bit of a history lesson perhaps.

Danger Man (2nd series) * Ralph Smart (1964-1966)

The “Danger Man” series are also known as “Secret Angent” and apparently also as “Destination Danger” and “John Drake”. I wanted to see the series, because main actor Patrick McGoohan quit “Danger Man” to start ‘his own’ series “The Prisoner” and “Danger Man” is often regarded as the forerunner of “The Prisoner”. There are several DVD box versions available and only after I got myself this one, did I learn that “Danger Man” has been broadcasted two time, 3 series from 1960 to 1962 and 4 series from 1964 to 1966. The first series are half our episodes, the second 50 minutes. The box that I got are the 1964/6 series… Even though there is a gap of three years between the two parts of the series, it opens as if the viewer knows exactly who is John Drake and what he does, a flying start for sure. The series end as suddenly as they start by the way, but that could be due to McGoohan’s plan to replace “Danger Man” with a better series. “Danger Man” is one of those secret agent things of that time with the early Bonds, “The Avengers” and the like. The episodes are not related and in each episode John Drake is sent on a mission which he usually completes elegantly. McGoohan is an amusing watch with his enigmatic face and chilled humour. Mixed in is (known from similar productions) ‘high-technology’ (tape recorders in shaving-machines, transmission divises built with parts from suitcases, that sort of things). Most episodes contain a simple plot, Drake’s dealing with it and a sudden end. There are a handfull of episodes with some experiments with the story or the atmosphere that remind a bit “The Prisoner”. Taken as a whole, “Danger Man” is amusing, but I have no immediate need to watch the older series. A funny thing is that the very last episode is the only one in colour and the box has an extra disc with a colour feature of the last two glued together.

X-Files complete 9 series * Chris Carter (1993-2002)

In August 2008 I ‘blogged‘ about having bought the 9 series X-Files shoebox and now I can tell you we have watched it all. Of course I am not going to review the whole series. A fact is that just as when I watched the series on TV (from 1994 or 1995 on or so) I dropped out somewhere in what proves to be the 8th series, but I have seen several episodes of the 9th as well. It is quite clear why I stopped following the series, they were not getting better. On the other hand, even with Doggett and Reyes there are some interesting episodes. The part of Scully becomes more and more unsatisfying and in some episodes even irritating when Carter has her take over the Mulder role. In any case, overall you can see the series developing. Then less-serious experiments come in, unfortunately resulting in a complete series almost devoid of normal episodes, but initially refreshing. After a while the various directors and story-writers seem to get more of a free hand and some episodes become both amazing and fantasyfull. In general I can say that the X-Files remain one of the more interesting series of my time, but I do not grief that they stopped after a series or two too many when things were not getting better. Unfortunately the last double episode is quite the opposite a final blowout, it is even pretty horrible…
I am not interested in all the extras. Every series has extras on each disc and a separate disc with extras. I do not think I saw any of that, so I cannot comment on it. The box itself looks nice, but is not firm enough for weekly use over two years time. Not that I completely wrecked it, but let me say that I could sell it as “mint” any more. Each series has a nice booklet with information about each episode and a list with all titles (in English and French in my version). Nine times the size of a VHS tape by the way. The box is not cheap, but I do not remember the price after two years, so who gives a damn.

Alice In Wonderland * Tim Burton (2010)

I heard quite critical notes about this cinema-filler, but my girlfriend still wanted to see it, so yesterday we saw Tim Burton’s version of the famous story in 3D. The story is at the same time very recognisable, but there are also a couple of things that Burton changed. He created some superb versions of the famous strange characters. Of course you will think of Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter, but I was more impressed by the waterpipe-smoking catterpillar Absolem, the Chesire cat, the big-headed “Red Queen” and the magnificent twin Tweedledee / Tweedledum. Burton created a nice, weird atmosphere, great visuals (however with these 3D films I keep seeing out-of-focus parts and not very natural looking humans) with enough subtle humour. Nope, I must say that I was not disappointed. The 3D is a nice extra in the cinema too.

Storm * Måns Mårlind (2005)

Storm“Storm” is a rather strange and confusing Swedish film. Almost anything I say will give away too much, but “Storm” has several alternating realities and each time when you think you understand the basic idea, there turns out to be another one. Somewhere between a psychological drama (in theme), action and fantasy thriller, “Storm” has combined several popular elements from outside the film industry. The film is not great, not even too original at all times, but an enjoyable watch and a nice mix of different elements.

Elizabeth: the golden age * Shekhar Kapur (2007)

Elizabeth: the golden ageThe first Elizabeth (“the virgin queen” 1998) is one of my all time favourite films (but apparently older than my writing of film reviews). I had seen the box of this film several times, but I thought it was just a rerelease or something. It turns out that almost 10 years after the original film, a sequel was made with almost the same crew! Apparently it has been a while since I saw the first one, since watching “the golden age” does not really bring back memories. The first one blew me away with its dark epic about the violent struggle between Catholics and Protestants. I do not even know “the golden age” is supposed to play before or after “the virgin queen” or perhaps it is another look at the same period. The story goes that since Elizabeth I (Protestant) remains childless, her cousin Mary Stuart (Catholic) is used by Spain to overthrow Elizabeth. War is waged.
“The golden age” is another great history lesson, but as a film it does not reach the level of “the virgin queen”. This could be because the novelty is gone or perhaps because “the virgin queen” is darker. “The golden age” is still a top class film though and a must-see if you like the first film.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service * Peter R. Hunt (1969)

So, three weeks ago we paid a shitload of money to get on the Schilthorn. This is one of the higher mountains of Switserland and on top is the famous Piz Gloria turning restaurant. The restaurant owes its fame partially to the fact that a James Bond film was filmed there, so when we came back, my girlfriend ordered this oldie on DVD. I am not much of a Bond fan, but the films are not really boring. OHMSS has a ‘one time Bond’ in George Lazenby, a not too great story, but some nice chasing scenes on ski and bob sledge and of course some lovely ladies. Also it is nice to see some locations where we were recently (besides the Schilthorn, the city of Bern for example). Not such a bad watch, particularly when I think of it that the film is quite a bit older than myself.

X-Files 9 series box * Chris Carter (1993- /2008)

I have wondered to post this as a review or as a “blog” post. I chose the first. I used to watch the X-Files since the first repeat of the first series. I taped most episodes, bought the VHS-tapes with double episodes, etc., saw the first film in the cinema and recently went to the second film. My brother started buying the old series, watch them and buy the next one. I had plans to start doing the same some time. After the awfull second film I felt more like watching the series when they were still good and then I heard about this box with all 9 series. I got it last week, we watched the pilot and first episode yesterday. I must have been a long time since I saw them and I enjoyed seeing them again a lot, even though the acting is rather poor and the overall atmosphere is rather cheesy. Next up is “Squeeze” and that is when the series start to get better. There seem to be European and American versions of the box, I got the nice looking evidence-box-looking one you see here. Nine boxes looking like VHS cases are in it with seven or eight DVDs each (!), a nice booklet with information about the episodes and short stories about the series and how the public reacted to them. Too bad the old ‘logo’ seems to be skipped, but overall the box looks very nice.