Wednesday, 30 August 2017

TV Series: Luke Cage

After watching another two episodes of "Luke Cage" I have a few brief thoughts that I'd like to add to the review that I wrote two days ago.

It's possible that there isn't a continuity error between "Jessica Jones" and "Luke Cage" (the series). This series takes place after the events of "Jessica Jones". Luke's bar was destroyed, so now he's had to downsize, working two jobs to make ends meet. He still seems like a different character, but that could be a result of personal development. Everything that happened to him in "Jessica Jones" has led him through a period of introspection, and meeting Pop has also profoundly influenced his life.

On the other hand, Luke's bar was in Hell's Kitchen. He's living in Harlem now, but when Nurse Claire Temple talks about Hell's Kitchen he acts like he hardy knows it.

I'm glad that Nurse Claire is back. The series (or group of Marvel series) need a regular character who has no super powers and will (probably) never get any. She's a reminder that normal people like you and me can also be heroes, if we have the simple desire to do good. Apart from that, I'm always happy to see Rosario Dawson. All the efforts to make her look plain and unglamorous fail to hide how beautiful she is.

Nurse Claire? Oops! In the 1970's comics she was a doctor. I wonder why the writers of the TV series have knocked her down a pay grade or two. On the other hand, the medical work she does in "Daredevil" surpasses what's usually expected of a nurse, so I don't doubt she has the natural talent to become a doctor.

After watching six episodes I can see that the series creators are trying to avoid the blaxploitation feeling of the 1970's comics, but they're not succeeding. The crime and the music keep the atmosphere alive. I don't say that as a criticism. I enjoy blaxploitation films. It's possible that after the arrest of Cottonmouth there will be less soul music, but I won't know that until I've watched another few episodes.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Terminator 2 (5 Stars)

Today is 29th August 2017, the 20th anniversary of the destruction of human civilisation in the event known as Judgement Day. To celebrate our survival "Terminator 2" has been re-released in glorious 3D.

Does that make you shudder? If you dislike 3D films as much as I do you'll be hiding your head under the blankets. For me 3D is all about silly gimmicks like things flying out of the screen to frighten the viewers. Fortunately this isn't what we get in the 3D version of "Terminator 2". The 3D effects are very subtle, sometimes adding more depth to scenes, but mostly unnoticeable. That's the sort of 3D I can live with.

What makes the film I saw today truly worthwhile is the remastering. I've watched the film on Blu-ray four times, which is often enough for me to verify that the picture I saw today was superior. There's a perfect clarity to every scene, especially the facial close ups.

This is one of my favourite films of all time, in my top 10 at least. It's amazing that it looks so good, considering that it's 26 years old. In 1991 computer graphics were still in their early days. The first Terminator film, made in 1984, looks dated, like a 1980's film, but "Terminator 2" looks like it was made last week.

There's no way the story can be faulted. There were hints of temporal paradoxes in the first film, but they become the central themes in the sequel. The film is so well structured, perfectly paced, and Arnold Schwarzenegger proves that he can act if he really needs to.

The only negative today is that I had to watch the film in German, i.e. dubbed into German. No cinemas here are showing it in the original English version. However, I got used to it as the film progressed. The German dubbing is so good that I almost forgot it was in German.

As I've said before, German dubbing is good in general, far superior to that of films dubbed into English. Voice actors ("Synchronsprecher") are picked for each actor, not for individual films. Germans audition for the part, and priority is given to those with acting experience. They have to commit themselves to dubbing the actor over a long period of time. The voice actors have to be approximately the same age as the actors they dub, for practical reasons. If a Hollywood actor is 30 years old a 55-year-old voice actor can't be picked, because it might be necessary to dub the actor for the next 40 years. The German cinema audiences expect an actor to sound the same from film to film.

I was speaking with German friends yesterday, and they knew the names of the voice actors who are responsible for the German voices of the biggest American stars. This amazed me, but my friends were equally amazed that I didn't know their names. Obviously it's something that serious film fans in Germany are expected to know.

The German method of dubbing can lead to clashes. Thomas Danneberg is the voice of both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. In "The Expendables" he dubbed the voices of both actors. I'm curious to hear what the film sounds like.

Sometimes a voice actor is exchanged. For instance, Stephan Schwartz was Tom Cruise's voice in 11 films from 1986 to 1993. When he was asked to dub his voice again in "Eyes Wide Shut" he said he was too busy, and a replacement was hired for the one film. In a television interview Stephan said that the real reason he had turned down the role was that he had just discovered that Tom Cruise was a Scientologist. Tom Cruise heard about this and insisted that the replacement, Patrick Winczewski, be retained for all his future films.

Yes, the German voice actors are so important that their Hollywood counterparts know them. It's not uncommon for them to meet to discuss a role. That shows how serious dubbing is taken in Germany.

Thomas Danneberg did a good job as Arnold Schwarzenegger's voice today. If anything, he sounded even colder and more mechanical than Arnold himself. German fans who have never seen the original version of the film are not missing out.

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Monday, 28 August 2017

Atomic Blonde (4½ Stars)

This is one of the best films of the summer, despite a few small complaints I have about it. Every time I saw the trailer in the last few weeks I grew more excited. I've long considered Charlize Theron to be one of the most beautiful actresses alive today, and seeing her as a kicking, punching, shooting action heroine blew me away. When I found out that the director is David Leitch, who also made "John Wick", I was even more excited. I knew I could expect a feast of over-the-top action.

I'll say straight away that there's less action than in "John Wick", if you count the total minutes, but the action that does take place is just as spectacular. John Wick relies mostly on his guns, but Lorraine Broughton, the heroine of "Atomic Blonde", spends more time fighting with her bare hands. It's a joy to watch her in action. Sitting in the cinema this evening I gasped on more than one occasion. I hope that didn't disturb the man sitting next to me.

Lorraine (Charlize Theron) is an English spy who's sent to Berlin in November 1989 to retrieve a stolen microfilm that contains the names of every double agent operating in Berlin. The city is in a state of chaos, because protesters are demanding that the Berlin Wall be torn down, which does actually happen at the end of the film. Lorraine's contact person is David Percival (James McAvoy), who has been working undercover in the city for 10 years. The action takes place on both sides of the Wall.

David considers himself to be a ladies' man, but he has no success with Lorraine. The only person she's attracted to is Delphine Lasalle, a young, inexperienced French spy.

The film's music is excellent. It's a well-picked selection of 1980's hits. I was tapping my feet when my favourite songs began to play.

Rather than just be a clone of "John Wick" there are elements of mystery interwoven with the action. The plot twists are skilfully built in, and were totally unexpected when they came.

Now to my criticism, which I admit is just a personal issue for me. Everyone is smoking cigarettes. In other films there might be an occasional scene where a character is smoking, but in "Atomic Blonde" the first thing the characters do when there's no fight going on is light up. Every time. As a life-long non-smoker this disturbs me. It surely wasn't necessary to exaggerate the smoking so much. If nobody had smoked at all the audience wouldn't have noticed.

One smaller problem for me is the film's structure: it begins with a debriefing when Lorraine is back in England, in which she tells her superiors what she did in Berlin. For me this takes the edge off the suspense. I can't be afraid that Lorraine will die, because the film has already told me she will return home.

Critics have highly praised this film. This time they've got it right.

TV Series: Luke Cage

I haven't been keeping my readers informed about what television series I've been watching lately. I don't even know if I want to do it on a regular basis, but if I don't start now I never will.

Last week I watched the first eight episodes of "Arrow" Season 4, and I watched the first eight episodes of "Flash" Season 2.

Now you know.

This week I've been watching "Luke Cage", the Marvel television series available on Netflix. I don't know why I've waited so long to start watching it, but the release of the new "Defenders" series gave me a kick. I don't want to fall too far behind with my TV series. So far I've watched four episodes (since yesterday), and I'll watch a few more this week. I don't know how many. My main priority is still films.

There's a lack of continuity between Luke Cage as he appeared in the "Jessica Jones" series and in his own series. Is Marvel turning into DC? In "Jessica Jones" he owned a small bar. In this series he works sweeping the floor in a barber shop. "No problem", shout the modern Marvel fans, "This is an alternate universe". That's a cheap way to excuse mistakes. Why can't they just admit that the writer didn't know what he was doing?

Having said that, I have to admit that Luke Cage's origin story, as told in the fourth episode, is an accurate re-telling of the story in the first issue of Luke Cage's comic. Fairly accurate, at least. In the comics Reva was the girlfriend of one of Luke's friends before he was sent to prison; in the TV series she's a prison psychologist.

In the comics Luke Cage had an afro hairstyle. I accept that he can't look like that in a series set in the 21st Century. Afros are so 1970's, today people would laugh if a man walked around like that. But at least he had an afro briefly in the flashback to his time in prison. Now that he's out his head is shaved.

At first I didn't recognise the police detective Misty Knight, and then it clicked. Wasn't she Iron Fist's girlfriend? I checked my old comics, and there she was in Marvel Premiere #21, published in 1975.

She's a completely different character in the series. In the comics she was a powerful kung fu fighter, as shown above. In the TV series she's a conservatively dressed police detective with psychic powers that allow her to see what happened at crime scenes. I don't remember her having this power in the comics. A year later she lost her right arm in an explosion, and it was replaced with a bionic arm, giving her super strength, in one arm at least. We first see her new arm in Iron Fist #3.

Her costume in the comics looks so much more exciting than the police uniform in the TV series. I'd love to see the actress Simone Missick dressed like this, even if she doesn't have an afro.

Or maybe she could dress like this? That's a very impractical place to wear a gun holster, but who cares? It's a first class costume.

I'm curious about how the series will continue. It has a lot of feeling to it, much more emotion than in the comics that I read in the 1970's. The gangster Cottonmouth is better developed more than he was in the comics. He's a parallel to Wilson Fisk in the Daredevil TV series (not the comics), but on a smaller level.

There are a lot of good TV series being made today, but I have to be selective. I can't watch them all.

Flag of the Week: Japan

Japan has one of the world's most distinctive flags, a red circle on a white background. This is intended to represent the sun, and the flag is called the Hinomaru in Japanese: the circle of the sun.

After World War Two there were attempts by the allied powers to force Japan to change its flag. It was claimed that the Hinomaru was a symbol of Japanese nationalism. That was obvious nonsense, so the Japanese refused to change their flag. It's been used since the 7th Century, alongside other flags that represented the family crests of ruling families. In 1854 it was recognised as the only valid Japanese flag.

The average Japanese citizen feels less connection to his flag than the citizens of other countries. The Hinomaru is used at official ceremonies, but rarely at home or on public buildings. The Japanese government wants to promote the use of the flag as a symbol of national pride, but its use is only recommended, not enforced. This is in contrast to the policy before World War Two, when all private homes were required by law to display the Hinomaru on national holidays.

There have been many arguments about the exact colour of red circle. Originally it was specified merely as "dark red", usually the darkest red dye available to printers. In our day of digital computer technology the colour had to be finally defined. In 2008, after long discussions, the RGB colour #ed1b2f was chosen as the recommended colour. It's not the darkest red, but it's supposed to be the most sun-like shade of red.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

The Promise (4½ Stars)

This is a film that takes place in the Ottoman Empire (modern day Turkey) at the beginning of the First World War, from 1914 to 1915. We see the country as a place of beauty, peace and prosperity, especially Istanbul.

Mikael Boghosian, a young Armenian apothecary from Sirun, in the far south east of the empire, goes to Istanbul to study medicine. He lives with his uncle, a rich merchant. At university he makes friends with Emre, the son of a high ranking Turkish official. Emre has no talent as a student and will almost certainly fail to graduate, but his father has told him that if he doesn't study he will have to join the army.

Mikael's uncle has a private teacher for his children, Ana, an Armenian who has spent many years in France. Mikael falls in love with her, even though he's already engaged to Maral, a woman in his village. Ana already has a lover, Chris Myers, an American journalist, but this doesn't dissuade Mikael from pursuing Ana. At this point I already hated him.

Then the problems start. The Sultan of the Ottoman Empire declared a holy war against the Christians in his country. This began on 24th April 1915. The able-bodied Armenian men in Istanbul were conscripted into the army. For their so-called military service they were sent to work camps where they were treated like slaves. Men who were too old to work were shot. Women and children were sent on marches into the desert, where they were left to survive without food and water.

After Istanbul was cleansed of Armenians, the army moved eastwards, killing Armenians wherever they were found. There were long columns of refugees fleeing from the army who didn't know where they were going. Sometimes refugees from the East met refugees from the West, and the refugee groups told each other there was no point in continuing in their direction.

Mikael escapes from his labour camp and manages to walk back to Sirun. He's persuaded to marry Maral. Together they live in a hut in the mountains, but the army comes and they have to flee.

In the meantime Chris and Ana are at a Protestant orphanage caring for Armenian children whose parents have been killed. They have plans to take the children to the coast, where boats will be waiting to evacuate them. Before they get there the army has destroyed the boats. All Armenians must die.

I admit to knowing very little about the Armenian genocide, except that 1.5 million Armenians were killed. The film shows the sheer brutality of it. It wasn't just the army that did the killing. An evil government persuaded its population that it was their duty to Allah to kill Christians. They had probably been racists for years, but as soon as the government said it was okay to kill Armenians they rushed into the streets with their torches and fancy headgear. Isn't it remarkable how racists look the same, whatever country they come from, whatever their religion is?

Not all Turks are bad. Emre uses his father's influence to assist Mikael and Chris on more than one occasion, but when it's discovered he's executed as a traitor.

The film shows that the Turks were very sloppy with their genocide. The Germans were efficient in World War Two. The Jews were sent to camps, they were killed in the showers, and their bodies were burnt in ovens. All very clean and tidy. The Turks simply shot the Armenians and left their bodies piled up on the road or in the woods. They didn't even attempt to bury them. Didn't they consider that the rotting corpses could start diseases?

After watching the film tonight I read the Wikipedia article on the Armenian genocide. It was depressing. It was even worse than what was shown in the film.

Notably, the Turkish government still denies that the Armenian genocide ever happened. President Recep Little Prick Erdogan is too busy killing his present day opponents to listen to allegations that his predecessors committed mass murder.

I enjoyed the film as a presentation of the Armenian genocide, but I couldn't relate to the love triangle (actually a love square, if you include Marla). I disapproved of Mikael being unfaithful to his fiancée, and Chris wasn't a very pleasant person either. At least they were both heroic in trying to save the Armenian orphans when they finally met again.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Special ID (4½ Stars)

I know Donnie Yen best for his pure martial arts roles, such as the Ip Man films. In China he's better known for his roles as a tough policeman. Some of his films have been released in English, but most haven't. I assume (or at least hope) that the best of his films have been selected for English release. "Special ID" is certainly a very good film.

When I say that a film has been "released in English" I mean either with English subtitles or dubbed into English. Usually I prefer subtitles, because English dubbing is amateurish compared to German dubbing. Today I watched "Special ID" with subtitles, but the next time I watch it I'll watch the dubbed version. This is a film that isn't suitable for subtitles. The pictures move fast and there's a lot of talking, especially in the first 20 minutes. If I read everything I miss part of what's happening. A film with a similar problem is "Run Lola Run". There's a lot of very fast dialogue in parts of the film, especially when Manni speaks. The subtitle texts flash on and off too fast to read them. I'm glad I'm able to understand the original German dialogue.

Donnie Yen plays Chen Zilong, a policeman who has been assigned to infiltrate a Hong Kong gang as an undercover cop. He's been undercover for six years, and he's had enough. He doesn't think he's doing any good where he is, and he wants to become a normal uniform cop again. His bosses think differently. They think that he's doing an excellent job. It isn't just the occasional shreds of information that he feeds to the police. Within the gang he's won respect, and he teaches a code of honour, that the gang should avoid violence unless absolutely necessary. There's even talk that if he bides his time he could become the gang leader, a prospect that horrifies Chen.

In his early days in the gang Chen trained a young man called Sunny. In addition to his moral code he taught Sunny how to fight. Sunny was ambitious, impatient to get to the top and unwilling to follow orders for the next 20 years. He went to the USA, where he gained a fearsome reputation as a ruthless gangster. Three years later he returned to China, to Nanhai on the Chinese mainland. He soon formed his own gang. After a business deal went wrong Chen's gang boss asked him to go to Nanhai to speak to Sunny, to assess if he could be trusted. Chen's police bosses also spoke with him about Sunny, telling him that Sunny needed to be taken down. Chen still feels loyalty to his old friend and doesn't promise anything.

Nanhai is outside of the jurisdiction of the Hong Kong police force, so Chen is transferred to the Nanhai police. His new contact with the police force is Detective Fang Jing, played by Jing Tian, one of my favourite Chinese actresses. Instead of standing idly in the background, as she did in "Kong: Skull Island", she proves that she has the talent to play action roles. She's not just a pretty face. She can kick hard and shoot fast.

She still has a soft side. She has a girly coffee cup that she carries with her at all times.

Donnie can't help but fall for her, even if he doesn't want to admit it. As all women know, when a man sits and talks absolute rubbish it's because he's too embarrassed to say what he really feels. The amused look on her face when she looks at him says it all.

Excellent police work! Jing Tian knows that the best way to arrest a criminal is to follow him into the toilet. He can't fire a gun while his hand is full. In this case, Changmaoxiong does try to resist arrest, but he regrets it. The dangly bits are an easy target when they fight.

One of the film's highlights is a thrilling six-minute car chase. Chen pursues Sunny through the streets of Nanhai while Jing Tian is clinging to the roof. (I prefer to use her real name). This is one of the scenes she will always be remembered for.

In case you can't read minds, I'll let you know what Donnie Yen is thinking:

"That's it! I'm never going to film a car chase ever again, however much they pay me!"

Do any of my friends know how to play Mahjong? Here we see Donnie Yen winning a game by scoring 13 orphans, evidently a very good score. And I thought Poker was difficult!

Donnie Yen is a marvellous actor and an amazing martial artist. Comparing him with Jet Li, Jet is probably a better fighter, but Donnie has better acting abilities.

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Friday, 25 August 2017

Tigermilch (3½ Stars)

Jameelah is a 14-year-old refugee from Iraq. She lives in Berlin with her mother, but they're in danger of being deported. Jameelah's greatest desire is to lose her virginity before she leaves Germany.

The film's trailer gave me the impression that this would be a comedy, but it was misleading. It's a very serious film which deals with important topics.

First of all, what is the "tiger milk" in the film's name? It's the name of a cocktail that Jameelah and her best friend Nini drink together: milk, maracuja juice and brandy. It sounds delicious. I really must mix it for myself. As far as I could tell from watching the girls mix it, it's equal portions of the three ingredients poured into a jug.

The girls are seemingly mismatched. Jameela is the top of her class, Nini is the worst. What unites the two 14-year-olds is their love of life. Whatever they do has to be fun. Jameela has left the war behind, and all she wants to do in her new country is party. In a way she's Nini's salvation. Nini doesn't get on well with her step-father and wants to spend as much time as possible away from home. She spends her time at Jameela's apartment, sharing food and social life as if they were sisters, only going home to sleep.

Their life changes on one fateful night. The girls are dancing naked in a small park near Jameela's apartment, scattering rose petals in the air. They hide in a playground when they hear someone coming. They see a man and woman arguing, after which he stabs her to death. Rather than report the murder to the police -- they recognised the murderer -- they steal her jewellery. The girls promise one another not to tell anyone what they saw, but two days later one of their school friends confesses to the murder. Nini feels that she must break her promise by telling the police that their friend isn't the murderer.

There are a few major storylines intertwined in the film. The friendship between the two girls, the comng-of-age-drama, honour killings and the hatred of different refugee groups towards one another.

That would be enough to make a good film. Unfortunately, other things are added that over-burden the film. We see Nini's younger sister Jessie having her first period. Irrelevant to the story. Jessie, who's probably about ten years old, drinks alcohol. Also irrelevant. Nini goes to hospital for a dental operation. Irrelevant. The boy that Jameelah loves gets another girl pregnant. Totally irrelevant. If all of these things had been deleted from the film the main story could have been told in more detaill.

Bibi & Tina Voll Verhext (3½ Stars)

This film is a sequel to "Bibi & Tina", continuing the story of the teenage witch Bibi Blocksberg on her never ending holiday. The title means "Bibi & Tina Completely Bewitched". The studios were in a hurry to make the sequel. The first film was released on 6th March 2014, and the second film was released nine months later on 25th December 2014. That was perfect timing for a girl to go to see "Bibi & Tina", meet someone in the dark cinema, have a one night stand, have a baby girl, call her Bibi, then leave her newborn baby with her mother while she goes to watch the sequel and meet another man.

This is a better film than the first film. Even though it's still targeting young girls the film is less juvenile in tone, if you understand what I mean.

The film begins with a robbery in Castle Falkenstein. The valuable paintings are taken off the wall, and more importantly the count's monocle collection is stolen. The insurance company refuses to pay because the castle wasn't adequately protected against thieves. Detective Greta Müller is sent to investigate the case.

Tina's mother reveals that the Martinshof, her house and riding stables that offer bed and breakfast, is in financial difficulties and may have to close. That would be an abrupt end to Bibi's eternal holiday. The two girls ride into town to invite people to book a holiday in the Martinshof, but the first new customers include two boys who took part in the robbery. They want to come back and spend a few days checking if there's anything else of value that they missed. Bibi falls in love with one of the boys, which clouds her judgement.

There's a lot more magic in this film than in the first film. Sometimes it backfires. When Bibi decides to go back in time to witness the robbery she goes too far and has to face a German army brigade in World War One. Witchin' ain't easy.

There's also more music in this film, especially in the first half of the film.

When Detective Greta Müller breaks into song the policewomen start dancing. I'll watch any film with dancing policewomen, but the film has much more to offer.

There are fierce guard dogs.

There's a farmer with a pitchfork.

There's a young girl in love with the farmer with a pitchfork. Doesn't she realise that she's way too young for him? She can't be a day over 12.

There are tough security guards. Or are they just auditioning for the Broadway musical version of "Reservoir Dogs"? Incidentally, one of the guards is the same girl who's in love with the farmer, this time with her hair combed flat. Can you spot her?

There's a teenage witch and her best friend dressed up as cowgirls. The actresses were both 17 when they made the film, too old to realistically portray 13-year-olds, but they do their best.

There's a vampiress who calls herself Elvira.

There's Catwoman. Meow! It's actually Sophia who was a holiday guest in the first film. Please don't let her know I told you her secret identity or she might scratch me.

After watching the first film I wasn't sure if I would continue with the series. I'm glad I did. "Bibi & Tina Voll Verhext" is no masterpiece, but watching it made me feel good inside. Summer and sun and pretty girls.

The most exciting woman in the film is Detective Greta Müller, played by Mavie Hörbiger. She doesn't need a gun to arrest a criminal. She wraps her legs around his neck. I'm jealous.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Passion (3 Stars)

I only gave this film three stars when I watched it three years ago, but I thought I would watch it again. I don't usually rewatch three-star films, but I thought I might have judged it unfairly. After all, no film with Karoline Herfurth can be that disappointing, can it?

Unfortunately, yes, it is. I almost felt tempted to lower the rating this time round, but I'll be generous.

Something is seriously wrong with the film, and it's difficult to say what it is. It had a budget of $25 million, but the end result looks as cheap as a low budget television movie.

Noomi Rapace and Karoline Herfurth are two of the best actresses alive today, but based on the evidence of this film you wouldn't think so. They deliver their lines woodenly without a shred of emotion. When Karoline says "I love you" her face looks as blank as if she's saying "You forgot to put sugar in my coffee". Even when a tear runs down Noomi's cheek her face looks blank, as if she just remembered she has to buy a Lotto ticket after work.

The soundtrack contributes to the cheapness of the film. It's little more than orchestral elevator music thrown in at random intervals in an attempt to highlight the suspense that isn't there.

Karoline Herfurth is Germany's best actress, but she needs to do better than this if she wants to make a breakthrough into the American market.

This is a beautiful picture of Noomi Rapace looking through a door, but it doesn't make up for the film's weaknesses.

When you see this screenshot of Rachel McAdams you might expect a steamy, erotic film. You'll be disappointed. You'll find more eroticism in "Titanic".

Noomi and Karoline share a passionate kiss.

"Did you enjoy that, darling?"

The film is about women who live in the superficial world of the advertising industry. They work in high paying jobs, they wear the best clothes and they go to parties where they exchange meaningless small talk. There's no problem with that. A film can reveal the shallowness of society and still be a deep, meaningful film. What disturbs me is that the film itself is superficial. If I described the plot to you it would sound like a good film, but it got derailed along the way.

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Wednesday, 23 August 2017

The Boat that Rocked (4 Stars)

I've watched this film a few times, but I've missed out until now. My Blu-ray disc has 44 minutes of deleted scenes. They're not like the fuzzy raw footage that we see on other discs, they're at a reasonable 540p resolution. As the director Richard Curtis explains, they were all scenes that should have been in the film, and it broke his heart to remove them, but it was a painful necessity, because nobody wants to see a three-hour film about a big boat.

There are 14 deleted scenes (actually 13 deleted scenes and one extended scene), and I have to say that I enjoyed all of them. I regret that they're not in the film itself. Isn't there a demand for a director's cut? I would buy it. If anything, Rhys Ifans suffers most from the cuts. His character is built up in the deleted scenes better than in the film itself.

The film is set in 1966-1967. It's about a fictional pirate radio station broadcasting from the North Sea, but it's based heavily on Radio Caroline. Some of the disc jockeys are recognisable to me, or at least I can see who they are based on, whatever their names in the film are. This is a film where I need to listen to the director's commentary. I only remember the big disc jockeys from the 1960's, like Emperor Rosco, John Peel, Terry Wogan and Tony Blackburn. In the commentary the director might state who the others are based on.

The film has several plots running side by side. They fit together very well. There's the government opposition to pirate radio stations, the coming of age of Carl, the 17-year-old godson of the station's owner, and the friendly rivalry between the top DJ's. Other smaller plots are found only in the deleted scenes.

The film is memorable for the meeting of Nick Frost and Gemma Arterton. It's love at first sight.

Gemma can't keep her hands off him. Lucky Nick.

Maybe he has something I don't. This photo might give me a clue.

I lived through the age of pirate radio. I owned a small radio, smaller than the one in this photo but probably better quality, that I kept next to my bed. I was less interested in the actual pirate radio stations. I spent more time listening to Radio Luxembourg, which provided a similar selection of pop songs, also presented by English DJ's like Noel Edmonds, Kenny Everett and Johnny Walker. Incidentally, I consider Noel Edmonds to have been a brilliant DJ. It's sad that he's a television host now. He should have remained with what he did best.

More than anything, the film is about the music. Most of the musical selection is accurate, the songs being picked from 1961 to 1967. A couple of later songs have slipped in, such as "Fire" (1968) and "Won't get fooled again" (1971), but they still fit the style of the two years when the film takes place. During the final credits more recent songs are played, as examples of songs that are influenced by the pop music of the 1960's.

Here is the full list of the songs used in the film:

At the end of the film Gemma Arterton has left, but Nick Frost finds himself an armful of schoolgirls to comfort him. I hope they're all over 16, for his sake. Nowadays the law frowns on the antics of radio DJ's.

Tom Wisdom finds himself 33 girls to play with. Is he crazy? No man could survive a night like that. Come to think of it, I wouldn't even survive Nick's three schoolgirls.

This is a highly entertaining film. It doesn't tell all the history of what happened in these fateful years. That's not its purpose. If you don't already know the story of pirate radio in the 1960's I advise that you read about it. Pirate radios actually operated from 1964 to 1990, but they were less important after the founding of BBC Radio One on 30th September 1967. For all its faults, Radio One gave the public what it wanted. "If you can't beat them, buy them". The top DJ's of the pirate radio stations were hired by the BBC, and the radio listeners followed them.

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