Archive for Frederick Forsyth

Dirty Nuke

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 14, 2019 by dcairns

 

Don’t bother with THE FOURTH PROTOCOL, is my best advice. They do shoot Kim Philby in the head in scene one, a bold start, but it’s downhill from there.

It comes on very cinematic, courtesy of Scotsman John MacKenzie at the tiller, and everyone’s in it, so for a while it seems like it could be OK.

But then it turns out to be a mash-up of DAY OF THE JACKAL and OCTOPUSSY. It somehow manages to have the same plot as both, even though they have different plots.

Pierce Brosnan is a handsome, ruthless Russian spy working for a rogue spymaster. He’s the Jackal, in other words, and Michael Caine is on his tail, but we get to see Caine run in this and we wonder if he’s ever likely to catch up. I think the point at which I lost hope for the film was when I realised the Inevitable Scene was going to be a punch-up between these two on a housing estate.

Brosnan moving about being slinky and ruthless is just Edward Fox V.02, but his specific mission is to blow up an American airbase on British soil, making it look like an accident. This will cause CND to kick the Americans out, thus weakening NATO. The film keeps cutting to CND protestors like they’re a THREAT, like they’re the elephants in ELEPHANT WALK (although, admittedly, I always took the pachyderms’ part against the settlers). There is, for balance, a scene where Caine beats up some skinheads on the underground because they’re hassling a weeping black girl with a CND badge for being a “commie” — the film’s one endearingly ludicrous moment. I was hoping for more, since George Axelrod is a credited writer, and he did give us, in a fit of apparent late-career confusion, THE HOLCROFT COVENANT, which plays like an accidental comedy but is written by a great comedy writer, so what is going on?

Caine has a brilliant scene reading Russian names off a computer with his small son — the only human moment in the movie.

THE FOURTH PROTOCOL stars Harry Palmer; Remington Steele; Tector Crites; Zhora (naked and dead again); Major Breen; Emeric Belasco; Rick Pym; Francis Urquhart (I); The Duke; Mon Mothma; Jessica Rabbit; Frank Cotton; Max Headroom; Neville Chamberlain; Elphias Doge; and the voice of Professor Ping.

 

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Don’t Mention the War

Posted in FILM, Politics with tags , , , , , on February 26, 2019 by dcairns

Here I would be writing about THE ODESSA FILE, since it seemed the natural follow-up viewing for BOYS FROM BRAZIL. It ought to be a more serious take on the subject of neo-Nazi resurgence, right?

I found it unwatchable — so what follows is not a review, just a series of random notes.

The script is terrible — that much I can say after ten minutes. The opening lays out the plot in a crass infodump that spoils any fun the viewer could have following an unfolding mystery, and the dialogue, my God. When a character says “X and I like you,” and Jon Voight replies in a phony German accent, “I like you and X,” it’s kind of OK because it makes a joke about how on-the-nose it is. But it’s the least on-the-nose dialogue in the film. When we first see Jon Voight with his stripper girlfriend Mary Tamm (!) their conversation is all about how he’s a freelance reporter because he likes his independence and she’s a stripper because she can earn money that way. When Voight asks a cop about a suicide, the cop goes into a loud, angry-sounding spiel about how the case is of no interest and the newspapers would never cover it, which ought to make any journalist suspicious, but (a) Voight remains merely casually curious and (b) the script wants us to believe that this isn’t a cover-up, just a cop stating the facts.Ronald Neame = world’s most festive director. He made SCROOGE, or course, but also THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE, in which the expensive cast literally climbs a Christmas tree to escape. This one begins with Perry Como singing Christmas Dream as Voight drives through a lit-up Berlin. (BOYS FROM BRAZIL prominently credits its Elaine Paige number, hilariously entitled We’re Home Again, which plays for about ten seconds as accompaniment to Linda Hayden and Michael Gough’s sex-murder).

(The jocular and avuncular Neame would have made great casting as either Santa — perhaps in place of his chum Attenborough — of the Ghost of Christmas Present, maybe.)

Jon Voight, wearing a brown coat in a brown car interior drives through a brown Berlin Christmas.

In the seventies, it seems, you could get brown Christmas lights.Tamm works at a strip club called REGINA. But that may be a typo.

It’s a muddy, ugly film, especially the urban stuff. They must have wanted it that way. You can see why making it look like OCEAN’S ELEVEN might not have seemed inappropriate. Still, there are gorgeously ugly seventies films (THE LAUGHING POLICEMAN makes fluorescent striplights glamorous) and this isn’t one, even though it’s shot by the great Ossie Morris. He does get to work in b&w for some WWII flashbacks, but these are highly dubious sequences by their very nature: flashbacking away from the main character just to serve up some Nazi war crimes feels wrong wrong wrong. Can you tell I’ve been watching Claude Lanzmann?

THE ODESSA FILE stars Joe Buck; Hauptmann (Capt.) Stransky; Helena Friese-Greene; Romana; Francis Bacon; Inspector Trout; Unteroffizier (Cpl.) Krüger; Von Luger ‘The Kommandant’; Professor Karl Manfred; Dr. Ravna; and, inevitably, Mr. Slugworth.