"Now Listen to Me..."
Just some thoughts on current happenings:
There are two recommended video releases this month. Both have been recently released on Blu-ray.
The first is 1966's espionage thriller The Ipcress File.
Michael Caine seems very comfortable in one of his first important roles as author Len Deighton's Harry Palmer: A far less flamboyant and heroic British secret agent than Ian Fleming's James Bond. Palmer's lifestyle couldn't be any different either. Unlike the opulent and sophisticated surroundings of Bond, Palmer's environment is confined and dreary. Produced by Harry Saltzman, who also helped bring Bond to the screen, this was made to be a more realistic alternative to Bond's extravagance of lavish surrounds, gorgeous women, and outrageous gadgets. Palmer's meagre wage, small East End flat, grocery shopping and constant paperwork suggest a rather routine spy's routine. This story aspect is offset, however, by the film's engaging characters, wry humour and an increasingly enthralling plot. Its producers have wisely brought in some of their Bond cohorts, namely Peter Hunt with his judicious style of editing, Ken Adams' inventive production design (which most resembles the Bond franchise during Palmer's outlandish brainwashing sequences), and John Barry's silky-smooth musical score featuring a most creative use of the cimbalom. Director Sidney J. Furie livens the proceedings with some spy-like camera angles as the drama comes to a most satisfyingly suspenseful climax. Like the Bond films, The Ipcress File requires a "suspension of disbelief", but will earn it in spades. Lastly, the title of this post, as some film buffs might have recognized, refers to some prominent dialogue in this highly enjoyable thriller. The new and improved Region B Blu-ray from Network can be ordered from Amazon.co.uk by clicking on the image above.
1997's The Game is a wild and fantastic concoction.
The superbly integrated personal background of Michael Douglas' Nicholas Van Orton not only makes his reactions to the escalating nightmarish events more involving, it adds poignancy to his final astonishment when all is revealed. The highly proficient, first-rate performances by Douglas, Sean Penn and the rest of the cast provide immeasurable help in genuinely bonding us to their characters. Unlike many of director David Fincher's other films, The Game seems to have improved with age and become more estimable than its title would have suggested. Unique, challenging and compelling, it really stays with you. The Blu-ray is from Criterion (Region A) and is available from Amazon by clicking on the image.
For August, the recommended CD Soundtrack is Ennio Morricone's sensational score to The Untouchables.
This 2 CD set is a limited edition release and is available on the La La Land label from Screen Archives Entertainment. It can currently be ordered by clicking on the image. Screen Archives ships worldwide.
There are two recommendations for those enjoying Turner Classic Movies in the U.S. this August:
The first is a somewhat rare foreign film showing of Louis Malle's penetrating study of a recovering alcoholic's severe depression, The Fire Within a.k.a. Le Fue Follet.
This is Hidden Gem #33 and contains a deeply moving performance by Maurice Ronet as Malle's tortured soul (who also starred in the French master's Elevator to the Gallows). TCM has scheduled this important film to air on (updated) Sunday, May 7 at 11pm PST.
On (updated) Friday, June 2 at 3:30pm PST, TCM will show Anthony Mann's terrific period noir The Tall Target: A conspiratorial effort to assassinate President Lincoln that takes place mostly on board a moving train.
This engrossing, suspenseful and taught intrigue is based on a very similar historical event. As well as having loads of noirish atmospheric cinematography by Paul Vogel (Lady in the Lake, High Wall, Black Hand) there's Dick Powell, shining as a determined policeman, and Ruby Dee's strong-minded slave who tries to assist Powell in thwarting the plot.
Both showings on TCM can be confirmed by clicking on the images.