July 2018


Check out the Danish band The Minds Of 99 and their magnificent 2018 album “Solkongen”.

Solkongen

“I urge you to travel as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to.”

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The lovely Elizabeth Taylor on location in Spain, on the set of “Suddenly, Last Summer”(1959).

Elisabeth

MI6 sends James Bond (Pierce Brosnan), agent 007, into the field to spy on a terrorist arms bazaar on the Russian border. Via television, MI6 and the Royal Navy identify several wanted men, including American “techno-terrorist” Henry Gupta, who is buying a GPS encoder made by the U.S. military. Despite M’s insistence to let 007 finish his reconnaissance, British Admiral Roebuck launches a missile attack on the arms bazaar. Bond then discovers two Soviet nuclear torpedoes mounted on an L-39 Albatros, and as the missile is too far along to be aborted, 007 hijacks the L-39 and flies away seconds before the bazaar is struck. Amidst the confusion, Gupta escapes with the encoder. Media baron Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce), head of the Carver Media Group Network (CMGN), soon begins his plans to use the encoder to provoke war between China and the United Kingdom, hoping to replace the current Chinese government with one more supportive to Carver’s plans of exclusive broadcast rights in their country. Via a GPS signal by using the encoder, Gupta sends a British frigate, the HMS Devonshire, off-course into Chinese-held waters in the South China Sea, where Carver’s stealth ship, commanded by Mr. Stamper (Götz Otto), sinks the frigate with a sea drill and steals one of its missiles, while shooting down a Chinese J-7 fighter jet sent to investigate the British presence, and killing off the Devonshire’s survivors with Chinese weaponry. After reading a CMGN report of the incident as a Chinese attack, a government minister orders Roebuck to deploy the British Fleet to recover the frigate, and possibly retaliate, while leaving M only forty-eight hours to investigate its sinking. M sends Bond to investigate Carver, due to Carver Media releasing their news articles with critical details hours before the events had become known, along with MI6 noticing a spurious signal from one of his CMGN communications satellites when the frigate was sunk. Bond travels to Hamburg and seduces Carver’s trophy wife, Paris (Teri Hatcher), an ex-girlfriend, to get information that would help him enter Carver’s newspaper headquarters. After Bond steals back the GPS encoder, Carver orders Paris and Bond killed. Paris is killed by Dr. Kaufman, Mr. Stamper’s teacher on Chakra Torture, but Bond kills Kaufman and escapes, protecting the encoder. Bond, after visiting the Americans and learning that the encoder had been tampered with, goes to the South China Sea to investigate the wreck (which was actually in Vietnamese waters), discovering one of its cruise missiles missing. He and Colonel Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh), a Chinese spy on the same case, after avoiding being trapped in the sunk ship, are captured by Stamper and taken to the CMGN tower in Ho Chi Minh City, but soon escape and decide to both collaborate on the investigation and bringing Carver to justice…

So, I`m continuing to re-see Pierce Brosnan´s years as James Bond and “Tomorrow Never Dies” was his second one coming out in 1997. In my opinion this is weaker than “GoldenEye” and “Tomorrow Never Dies” becomes a flat and massively overdriven/over-exaggerated affair in all areas, even for being a Bond movie. Brosnan is still stiff as Bond and he just doesn´t seem to fit in the tuxedo. The idea of putting focus on medias manipulation of the world is not bad, but Jonathan Pryce´s Elliot Carver (the psychopathic media mogul who plans to provoke global war in order to boost sales and ratings of his news divisions) is just not a stand out Bond bad guy that goes through the screen, but instead becomes a bi-figure in my point of view. The same goes for his henchman Mr. Stamper, who becomes a really poor action movie stereotypical bad guy. The lovely Teri Hatcher is wasted as Paris, as she gets hardly any screen time and gets killed very quickly. While Michelle Yeoh gets more screen time, and participate in a lot of the action sequences due to her martial arts background, her character never really takes off and there´s no sparks between her and Brosnan. However, my biggest issue with “Tomorrow Never Dies” is the fact that all actions sequences, more or less, are so over the top ridiculous and over-exaggerated (and this is still a Bond movie) that it ruins the whole movie. Yes, there´s always been some over the top stunts or sequences, particularly in Roger Moore´s Bond movies, but here it´s like director Roger Spottiswoode went into the candy shop and Eon Productions kept giving him more and more money to buy more and more candy. You are choking on all the ridiculous action sequences like a gigantic cotton candy stuck in your throat. Nah, “Tomorrow Never Dies” passes in my book as one of the less good Bond movies. (2 out of 5)

Tomorrow

The two angels, Damiel (Bruno Ganz) and Cassiel (Otto Sander), roam the city of Berlin, unseen and unheard by its human inhabitants, observing and listening to the diverse thoughts of the West Berliners: a pregnant woman in an ambulance on the way to the hospital, a painter struggling to find inspiration, a broken man who thinks his girlfriend no longer loves him. Their raison d’être is, as Cassiel says, to “assemble, testify, preserve” reality. Damiel and Cassiel have always existed as angels; they existed in Berlin before it was a city, and before there were even any humans. Among the Berliners they encounter in their wanderings is an old man named Homer (Curt Bois), who, unlike the Greek poet Homer, dreams of an “epic of peace.” Cassiel follows the old man as he looks for the then-demolished Potsdamer Platz in an open field, and finds only the graffiti-covered Berlin Wall. Although Damiel and Cassiel are pure observers, visible only to children, and incapable of any physical interaction with our world, Damiel begins to fall in love with a profoundly lonely circus trapeze artist named Marion (Solveig Dommartin). She lives by herself in a caravan, dances alone to the music of Crime & the City Solution, and drifts through the city. At the same time we encounter actor Peter Falk, who has arrived in Berlin to make a film about Berlin’s Nazi past. As the film progresses, it emerges that Peter Falk was once an angel, who, having grown tired of always observing and never experiencing, renounced his immortality to become a participant in the world. While Damiel is omniscient and lives in eternity, Marion is mortal and lives the human aspiration to be immortal and perfect by wearing a pair of white wings, climbing a rope, swinging from a bar in a cheap circus, toying with death, as there is no net, and with her human clumsiness reaches upward to the grace expressed in the idea of an angel. Her aspiration is both absurd and divine. As one can take only so much of infinity, Damiel’s longing is in the opposite direction, for the genuineness and limitedness of human existence in the world. He eventually embarks on this thought with the full realisation that there is no turning back if he decides to do so…

Wim Wender´s “Wings Of Desire” is yet another movie that has been on my “to see list” and it´s been there forever it seems. First of all, I am sad to say that I didn´t like it as much as I truly hoped I would do. I have had this sense of this being a truly beautiful piece of film that would mesmerise me and give me a shot of love straight into my heart. We get this tale of two angels moving around in West Berlin before the wall came down and eventually one of the angels make the decision to become human to experience everything on the “other” side so to speak. That´s a great piece of script in my point of view. The first half is quite fragmented (both in editing and filming) and in the world of the angels everything is in black/white and in this almost lifeless and dreamlike existence, life moves along in a slow pace while all the angels listens to the thoughts of people. The dialogue is abstract most of the times and the characters inner thoughts are mostly spoken in riddles or metaphors (nothing wrong in that), but it becomes tiresome the longer we move into the running time in my opinion. The idea of putting Peter Falk in the movie as himself and exposing him as a former angel, is a great idea. But, I think that Wender could´ve used Falk a bit more in the movie. “Wings Of Desire” is told in a non traditional cinematic way, and I like that, but I do think that the movie really becomes interesting once Damiel has shed his wings and become a human. Then it becomes lifelike and colourful (literally), I reckon showing the beauty of the life we do live and are graced with. Bruno Ganz is great as Damiel and he shows what a strong actor he is without saying so much. I think as well that “Wings Of Desire” is a nice homage to the beautiful city of Berlin just prior to the wall came down. And the end (or final part of the movie you might say) was not as strong as it could´ve been either. “Wings Of Desire” is different with a great script/idea as a foundation, but Wender doesn´t fully reach what I wanted to see. Interesting fact is that all of the black & white sequences were shot through a one-of-a-kind filter made from a stocking that belonged to cinematographer Henri Alekan’s grandmother. And filming the actual Berlin Wall was prohibited, so a replica of the wall had to be built close to the original twice. The first fake wall warped in the rain because the contractor cheated the producers and built it from wood. (3 and a half out of 5)

wings_of_desire

As the Allies make their final push into Nazi Germany, a battle-hardened U.S. Army Staff Sergeant in the 66th Armored Regiment, 2nd Armored Division (also known as “Hell on Wheels”) named Don “Wardaddy” Collier (Brad Pitt) commands an M4A3E8 76mm Sherman tank named Fury and its five-man, all-veteran crew: gunner Boyd “Bible” Swan (Shia LaBeouf); loader Grady “Coon-Ass” Travis (Jon Bernthal); and driver Trini “Gordo” Garcia (Michael Pena). The tank’s original assistant driver/bow gunner has been killed in battle. His replacement is a recently enlisted Army typist, Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman), who has neither seen the inside of a tank nor experienced the ravages of war. Norman eventually earns the nickname “Machine”, given to him by Grady Travis. The surviving crew, who have been together since the North African Campaign, belittle the new recruit upon meeting him, both for his lack of experience and for his reluctance to kill Germans, especially the teenagers of the Hitlerjugend; a decision which results in the death of their platoon leader, Lieutenant Parker, and the destruction of his tank and crew. In an effort to ‘educate’ him to the realities of war, a furious Wardaddy demands Norman kill a captive German artilleryman. When Norman refuses, Wardaddy forces the gun into his hand and makes him execute the prisoner. The bond between Norman and Wardaddy becomes stronger after capturing a small German town. Searching a house, Wardaddy and Norman discover a German woman, Irma, and her cousin Emma. Norman is then left behind closed doors in the bedroom with Emma. After they come out of the bedroom, the four then sit down and have breakfast together, but the tank crew barges in, rudely teasing the women and angering Wardaddy and Norman. Shortly afterwards, a German bombardment hits the town, killing Emma and some of the American forces. This, coupled with observing the retreating Germans soldiers burning their own towns and the cruelty they show to other Germans who do not fight for the Wehrmacht, hardens Norman. He confesses to Wardaddy that he has begun to enjoy killing Nazi soldiers. A platoon of four tanks, led by Fury, receives orders to hold a vital crossroads, protecting a clear path to supply trains and a camp full of allied nurses and cooks (the map shows Emmerthal south of Hameln, where the railway from the Ruhr district to Hanover crosses the Weser river). On the way to the crossroads, they are ambushed by a heavily-armed German Tiger I, which quickly destroys one of the tanks. The remaining three tanks reluctantly attack the German tank, knowing they are outgunned. The Sherman tanks advance and attempt to outflank the Tiger, but the other two Shermans are destroyed before they can make it. With some decisive and experienced maneuvering, Fury gets behind the Tiger where its armor is weakest, and destroys it. Bible notes that he believes they were spared for a reason and the men proceed to the crossroads, knowing that they are the only tank left to protect the camp down the road. As they reach the crossroads, the tank is immobilized when it hits a landmine. They soon realize a reinforced company of three hundred Waffen-SS mechanized infantry who have lost their half-tracks and trucks are heading their way. The crew initially wants to abandon the tank and escape on foot, but Wardaddy refuses to leave. The crew, not wanting to abandon their leader, decide to stay and plan an ambush…

First of all let me say that “Fury” is without no doubt a well made movie, from uniforms, tanks etc to its gritty and intense battle scenes. By far some of the better tank battle scenes I have seen on the screen. But, “Fury” is also a cliché ridden, machoistic and stereotypical action movie with WWII more or less as a backdrop in all the visual and fast paced graphic violence and death. I reckon Ayer tries to give us an insight of the hell war is and how it actually was being part of an Armored Division during WWII, but he makes “Fury” partly like a shoot em up flick for the young generation and he gets partly lost in how well he wants to make the action sequences and not really communicate what war does to mankind in a stronger emotional and believable way. It just becomes very “cartoony” compared to how Spielberg handled “Saving Private Ryan” in my point of view. Rafer Guzman of the periodical Newsday admired director Ayer who “does a good job of putting us inside the tank Fury,” film with “all the extra blood and brutality, this is still a macho and romanticized war movie.”. The stereotypical tank crew, no need to actually point it out more than that, becomes very 1 dimensional even if Ayer has given them several layers as characters. The only one that really stands out in my opinion is Boyd “Bible” Swan played by Shia LaBeouf. A man on the verge of constant despair and redemption for his sins on the battle field. There´s flaws, several to be honest, but when reading a lot of reviews on IMDB that slams the authenticity on for example how bad the germans are at hitting the tank with panzerfausts etc, makes me just wanting to point out that then you need to question the authenticity of all major WWII movies ever made more or less. Yes, it makes no sense that a platoon of 300 Waffen SS soldiers with several panzerfausts are getting slaughtered by an immobile tank in the middle of a road or that Norman is spared by the SS soldier who discovers him under the tank. Then again, maybe that SS soldier was tired of killing. Maybe he didn´t see any point on killing an unarmed kid under that tank. Maybe those 300 Waffen SS soldiers were all rookies and just failed in the heat of the battle. My point with this is that a lot of these reviews on IMDB are just reflecting on the movie from a very narrow point of view concerning authenticity and not looking at the whole picture with wider eyes. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Steven Rea gave the film 3 out of 4 stars and praised, “Fury presents an unrelentingly violent, visceral depiction of war, which is perhaps as it should be. Bayonets in the eye, bullets in the back, limbs blown apart, corpses of humans and horses splayed across muddy, incinerated terrain. Ayer brought a similar you-are-there intensity to his 2012 cops-on-patrol drama, End of Watch (also with Peña).” But on the opposite side of Rea’s admiration, he thinks, “It wouldn’t be right to call Fury entertaining, and in its narrow focus (as narrow as the view from the tank’s periscope), the film doesn’t offer a broader take on the horrors of war – other than to put those horrors right in front of us, in plain view.” War is ugly, war is hell and I can´t even try to imagine how it is to be at war or at the frontline during a major war. Yes, I agree that Ayer missed out on creating a WWII movie that really touches you emotionally, both in the brain and in the heart, but he has created a visual WWII bonanza that is still gripping and engaging despite major flaws. (4 out 5)

Fury

Duke (Channing Tatum) has become the leader of the G.I. Joe unit, which is framed for stealing nuclear warheads from Pakistan by Zartan (Arnold Vosloo), who is impersonating the President of the United States (Jonathan Pryce). The unit is subsequently decimated in a military air strike with Duke among the casualties. The only survivors are Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson), Flint (D.J. Cotrona), and Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki). Meanwhile, Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee) and Firefly (Ray Stevenson) rescue Cobra Commander (Luke Bracey) from an underground maximum-security prison in Germany. Storm Shadow is injured during the escape and retreats to a temple in the Himalayas to recover. Upon learning that he is alive, the Blind Master (RZA), leader of the Arashikage Clan, sends Snake Eyes (Ray Park) and his apprentice Jinx (Elodie Yung), Storm Shadow’s cousin, to capture Storm Shadow so he can answer for the murder of his uncle the Hard Master. Roadblock, Flint, and Lady Jaye return to the United States where they set up a base of operations in a rundown gym. After Zartan announces that Cobra will replace the Joes as America’s elite special forces unit, Lady Jaye deduces that someone is impersonating the President, and Roadblock leads them to General Joseph Colton (Bruce Willis), who provides them with weapons, and helps them infiltrate a fundraising event that the President will be attending. Lady Jaye steals a sample of the President’s DNA and confirms that he is Zartan. They escape after a confrontation with Firefly and Zandar (Matt Gerald), the head of the U.S. Secret Service’s Presidential Detail and a member of Cobra. Snake Eyes and Jinx locate and capture Storm Shadow after a battle with ninjas and take him to Japan, where Storm Shadow reveals that Zartan murdered the Hard Master, and that he joined Cobra to avenge his uncle. Storm Shadow then accompanies Snake Eyes and Jinx as they join the Joes’ efforts to stop Cobra. Zartan invites the world leaders to a summit at historic Fort Sumter, where he blackmails them into disabling their nuclear arsenals, and reveals that he has created Project Zeus: seven orbital kinetic bombardment weapons of mass destruction at his command. He destroys central London to prove his superiority, and threatens to destroy other capitals if the countries don’t submit to Cobra…

PopMatters journalist J.C. Maçek III wrote about “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” – “For fans who bought the toys, watched the cartoon and read the comics during the ’80s and now have like-aged children of their own (all of which I did and do), might I suggest proceeding to watch this fun film with your kids, but compromise so that you can leave the commentary track on. The film will remain a treat for the eyes, but you can more easily gloss over those parts that will make you apologize to your brain.” Writing for Empire magazine, Olly Richards gave the movie 2 stars out of 5 and compared it unfavorably with its predecessor, writing: “The first film you could at least laugh at. This takes all its silly ingredients and smushes them down flat. ‘Retaliation’ over-promises and under-delivers.” Richard Roeper of Chicago Sun Times gave the movie 1.5 stars out of a possible four, branding it a “ridiculous and overblown debacle” that contained “nothing but well-packaged garbage” and further adding: “To say ‘G.I. Joe: Retaliation’ is a video game for the big screen is to insult a number of video games that are far more creative, challenging and better-looking.” I thought the first “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” was ok for what it was and had a better balance between the characters and the storyline. And alongside the comic, it had that sort of cartoony feeling, but not too much. While “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” just becomes yet another brawn no brains action flick with a plot of a few sentences and new G.I. Joe characters that doesn´t really pay the homage to the original comic structure. Neither does director Jon M. Chu, who only seems to be interested in blowing up stuff and forgetting about the essentials in the G.I. Joe universe. The big mistake here is as well to put the one dimensional The Rock in the drivers seat alongside Mr. Paycheck Bruce Willis. Two actors that doesn´t add anything no matter what they play. The only part I did enjoy was the very nicely done 8-10 minutes long fight sequence in the Himalayas between Snake Eyes & Jinx and the red ninjas. I think “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” is a fire and a massive miss that only touches upon the G.I. Joe universe.
(2 out of 5)

GIJoe

 

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