good morning vietnam

GOOD MORNING VIETNAM/ONE HOUR PHOTO: A DOUBLE BILL OF ROBIN WILLIAMS MOVIE REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

good morning vietnamGOOD MORNING VIETNAM and ONE HOUR PHOTO: A DOUBLE BILL OF ROBIN WILLIAMS MOVIE REVIEWS BY FILM CRITIC SANDRA HARRIS. ©

GOOD MORNING VIETNAM. (1987) DIRECTED BY BARRY LEVINSON. STARRING ROBIN WILLIAMS, FOREST WHITAKER, BRUNO KIRBY, RICHARD EDSON AND J.T. WALSH.

ONE HOUR PHOTO. (2002) DIRECTED BY MARK ROMANEK. STARRING ROBIN WILLIAMS, CONNIE NEILSEN, MICHAEL VARTAN, ERIN DANIELS, GARY COLE, DYLAN SMITH, PAUL H. KIM AND ERIQ LA SALLE.

The late great Robin Williams gives two immensely memorable and deeply contrasting performances in these two films. They’re certainly two of his most well-known movies, along with MRS. DOUBTFIRE, DEAD POETS’ SOCIETY and kids’ film JUMANJI, amongst many others.

I actually think that his performance as the disturbed Sy Parrish in ONE HOUR PHOTO is my favourite ever performance of his. He plays it totally ‘straight’ in this film, which is kind of weird considering that most people remember Robin Williams as the motor-mouthed funny man who was able to take pretty much any notion or idea under the sun and immediately make a rapid-fire comedy monologue out of it without breaking a sweat.

Another thing I personally remember about the deceased comedy actor, incidentally, is that he had incredibly hairy arms and that the hit animated comedy THE SIMPSONS cited a ‘Robin Williams level of hairiness’ as being pretty much the hairiest state of being that any human male could aspire to, haha. I’m sure he wasn’t offended by this. After all, excessive hairiness has always equated to high levels of masculinity, hasn’t it? So it’s all good. Unless of course you’re a woman…!

In ONE HOUR PHOTO, Robin Williams plays a desperately lonely middle-aged man called Sy Parrish who works in- you guessed it!- the ‘One Hour Photo’ section of a busy mall. Here he develops the photographs of happy, affluent and productive families who all seem to have been so much luckier than himself in the way in which their lives have panned out.

Over the course of the movie, it becomes clear that Sy has become obsessed with one family in particular, the Yorkins. He doesn’t wish them any harm at all. He just wishes that he were part of their seemingly perfect family unit.

There’s a Perfect Mom, a Perfect Dad and even a Perfect Little Boy, Jake. Although the Yorkins only know Sy as the guy from the photo kiosk in the mall (and that’s the way they want to keep it!), Sy likes to imagine himself as a sort of kindly uncle figure in their perfect lives.

The fantasy scenes in which Sy fondly imagines himself as a Yorkin are superbly done, but when the viewer is permitted to witness how Sy actually lives, the sadness becomes all-pervading. His life is lonely beyond belief and the viewer can’t help but wonder what kind of miserable childhood he had.

Sy doesn’t realise at first that the Yorkins, the family he’s chosen to worship from (kind of) afar, are nowhere near as perfect as he thinks they are. When he accidentally discovers that they are, in fact, deeply flawed, his mind can’t handle it and a train of events is set in motion that will have far-reaching consequences for all concerned. (Spoken like a true reviewer, that was. Tells you everything while at the same time giving feck-all away…!)

Gary Cole is terrific in this psychological thriller-slash-horror film as mall manager Bill Owens, and Eriq La Salle from ER does a great understated job as the Detective from Threat Management who’s called in when the s**t hits the fan.

Robin Wiliams himself turns in the performance of a lifetime, in my humble opinion, as the mild-mannered loner whose sanity has really only been hanging by a thread for a long time now. He cracks no jokes in this film, but his acting is one hundred million percent flawless.

Airman Second Class Adrian Cronauer, Williams’s character in GOOD MORNING VIETNAM, couldn’t be more different to Sy Parrish if he tried. This film is loosely based on real events and it sees Robin Williams take on the role which surely he was born to play, that of the motor-mouthed comedian with a sweet and vulnerable heart under all the quickfire one-liners and sassy backchat.

American soldier Adrian Cronauer arrives in Saigon from Crete during the Vietnam War in 1965. He’s come to do his own radio show for the Armed Forces Radio Service. To say that he proves to be a breath of fresh air on the previously stuffy old airwaves wouldn’t be doing him justice. He’s more of a big fat kick up the backside than a breath of fresh air and the radio station really doesn’t have a clue what’s hit it.

Cronauer on the air is funny, irreverent, unpredictable and madcap, with a savage talent for mimicry. He pokes fun at things and people that were previously held sacrosanct, like the former Vice-President Richard Nixon, and instead of the suggested polkas he plays the kind of music he thinks the troops on the ground in ‘Nam REALLY want to hear. Loud, sexy rock ‘n’ roll turned up full blast, in other words…!

The fantastic soundtrack has songs from James Brown, The Beach Boys, Them, Louis Armstrong and Martha and the Vandellas on it and it perfectly captures the wild and rebellious spirit of the ‘Sixties. SPIRIT OF THE ‘SIXTIES… That’d make a great title for a compilation album, haha. As Homer Simpson might and, I think, did actually say once: ‘Mmmm, turbulent…!’

The funniest bits of the movie are when the unorthodox and outspoken Cronauer clashes with the Establishment, which is pretty much all the way through the film so you’re in luck! Robin Williams has some excellent support from Forest Whitaker as the soldier who really believes in him and would even kind of like to be him and also from Bruno Kirby as Second Lieutenant Steven Hauk.

Hauk desperately wants to be funny but, unfortunately for him, he’s about as funny as herpes on your wedding night…! Hauk’s underling Private Abersold, who’s basically Wayland Smithers to his Mr. Burns, is funny without meaning to be. Their double act is actually pretty hilarious.

My favourite funny character in the film, though, apart from Cronauer himself, is Jimmy Wah, the Vietnamese café-bar owner who’s ‘a little light in the loafers’ (is this the first film to coin this phrase, by the way?) and who’ll give you a free salad if you get near-fatal food poisoning in his restaurant. Goddammit, people, you cannot say fairer than that…!

Being typically female, I haven’t mentioned the war as such as I prefer the clashes within the radio-station itself. Oddly enough, as I am a typical female, I didn’t much care for the love story between Cronauer and the Vietnamese girl Trinh either, even though I normally live for the love story in war films. (In case the war bits are boring, see?) Their ‘love’ seemed a bit contrived and tacked-on and Trinh’s kind of mopey and annoying and without much personality. Yeah, yeah, I know. Miaow…!

Any-hoo, I kind of felt like those bits were a waste of time and the film-makers might have been better off fitting in a few more of Robin Williams’s rapid-fire comedy monologues instead. Mind you, those are actually soooo quickfire that they leave you worn out, like a wet dishcloth that’s been wrung out and then hung out to dry, haha. Oh, and you’ll enjoy Robin Williams teaching colloquial New Yorkisms like ‘flipping the bird’ to a classroom full of Vietnamese people, those bits are great!

One thing that Adrian Cronauer is constantly being asked to do in this film is to ‘be funny.’ Just like that, like clicking a switch on and off. ‘Be funny.’ I could perfectly well imagine people in Robin Williams’s real, everyday life having maybe demanded the same thing of the star whom we now know frequently didn’t feel terribly ‘funny’ at all in his real life.

It made me think about how hard it must be to be a ‘funny’ guy (or gal) who kind of feels like they’re dying inside. Think of the pressure there’d be on you all the time to entertain people, to ‘be funny’ for them even when being funny is the last thing you feel like doing. I guess that’s where the whole thing of the ‘sad clown’ comes from.

Poor old Robin Williams. He certainly deserved to be happy after all the happiness he brought to his legions of fans, and especially in this multi-award-winning film. Too many awards to enumerate, so look ’em up if you want…!

Anyway, speaking of pressure, there’s some major pressure on me now to sign off in a funny way so, um, I think I’ll leave you with, um, er, cheerio for now, Dublin and, um, the Internet. Ah, what the hell. Let’s bloody well go for it, movie buddies. All together now:

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD MORNING VIETNAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAM…!

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

baby jane

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? (1962) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

baby jane

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? (1962) PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY ROBERT ALDRICH. SCREENPLAY BY LUKAS HELLER. BASED ON THE NOVEL BY HENRY FARRELL. STARRING BETTE DAVIS, JOAN CRAWFORD, VICTOR BUONO, MAIDIE NORMAN, ANNA LEE, B.D. MERRILL AND MARJORIE BENNETT. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is one of the best films you’ll ever see about the deterioration of a diseased mind. It’s also one of the best horror films ever made, though surprisingly some people consider it purely a womens’ melodrama or even a black comedy. Yes, there are moments in it when you laugh, but it’s more out of disbelief or discomfort than genuine mirth and merriment. This film is a horror film, make no mistake about that. It was released on the actual day of Halloween, for crying out loud…!

Hollywood royalty (and arch-rivals!) Bette Davis and Joan Crawford give what we term today as career-best performances in the black-and-white psychological chiller that was nominated for no less than five Academy Awards and revived the flagging careers of its two leading ladies.

Bette Davis in particular is spectacular as she transforms herself before our very eyes from an iconic actress into a woman who is not only ugly to look at and unpleasant in the extreme,  but she is actually insane into the bargain. But what happened to make her this way? Let’s take a closer look, shall we, horror fans…?

The plot in a nutshell is as follows. Jane Hudson (Bette Davis) is a former child star who was never able to make that difficult transition from child star to adult success. Yes, she had movie roles once she outgrew the ringlets and the pretty little party dresses, but they never amounted to much. Now, over forty years since her salad days, Jane is an embittered and mentally unbalanced alcoholic. She’s dependent on her sister Blanche for the very roof over her head.

Blanche was the plain little church mouse when Jane’s child star persona, Baby Jane Hudson, packed theatres with adoring fans all dying to see the little blonde-haired moptop singing and dancing. As they grew older, however, it was Blanche whom the studios wanted, Blanche for whom the public clamoured, Blanche who could write her own ticket, even to the point of insisting that the studios made a film with Jane for every one they made with Blanche. Blanche has always looked after Jane in that way.

When we meet the sisters, they are sharing the house they’ve lived in for years. Blanche, crippled in an accident caused by a drunken Jane years ago, is confined to a wheelchair and never leaves her room. Jane is her reluctant carer. Everything she does for Blanche is done with a terrible grace.

Jane hates her sister and she especially hates her life as a nonentity. She hates the fact that she’s grown old and ugly and that her time in the spotlight (we see her as a child star in 1917) is over. Clearly, no-one has ever prepared her for life after fame. The film is definitely a damning indictment of the way that Hollywood chews you up and spits you out when it’s done with you. It kind of reminds me of SUNSET BOULEVARD in that way.

Now it’s the early ‘Sixties and, to rub salt in a festering wound that never healed, TV bosses are running a series of Blanche’s old movies. Jane is disgusted to see that people still remember, idolise and even love her sister Blanche because of her films and the jealousy and bitterness gnaw away at her like a sickness.

We see actual real footage of Joan Crawford’s old movies, by the way, just as real photos of the two leading actresses are dotted around the fantastic old house. They were both so beautiful in their day. Mind you, even in the midst of the grotesquerie that is an elderly Jane Hudson, we still get the odd flash of those fabulous ‘Bette Davis Eyes.’ She never lost those, thank God.

Anyway, Jane’s physical and emotional abuse of Blanche grows worse as the film progresses. Blanche wants to sell the house and have Jane put away somewhere where ‘they can take care of her.’ Jane will see her sister dead before she allows that to happen.

She isolates Blanche from her last contact with the outside world, her maid Elvira, and carries on a campaign of emotional terror against her sister that leaves poor Blanche a gibbering wreck. Jane has plans to ‘revive’ her own long-dead ‘career’ as well. To this end, she enlists an unscrupulous money-grabbing musician who’s down on his luck to come and listen to her sing. This is all with a view to his joining her in her glorious ‘comeback.’ God help us all…!

The scene in which Bette Davis, festooned and furbelowed in full child-star gear (a little-girl-dress-and-ribbons ensemble, to be precise) sings her signature song to an appalled Edwin is probably the most grotesque in the film, barring of course the shocking end scenes. We feel all of Edwin’s horror and revulsion as this scary old lady in a little girl’s party dress simpers and preens at him in the mistaken idea that she’s lost none of her girlish prettiness and talent.

I recently was lucky enough to see the film on the big screen at a local cultural event and everyone in the audience, young and old alike, sang along loudly to ‘I’M SENDING A LETTER TO DADDY.’ Afterwards, of course, we all sniggered self-consciously and shot embarrassed glances at each other…!

Other scenes of note include those terrific aerial shots of Blanche rotating wildly in her wheelchair after Jane has served up another of her memorable culinary delights, and also those where Jane is imitating Blanche on the telephone to their family doctor and the liquor store. She does it so chillingly well and the way in which her personality switches so fluidly from nasty to nice is positively ghoulish.

I heard once that the young blonde girl living with her mum next door to the Hudson sisters is actually Bette Davis’s real-life daughter, but I’m not too sure about that so don’t quote me on it, okay? (Just Googled it; I’m right!)

Also, Victor Buono does a brilliant job as Edwin Flagg. It’s perfectly believable that a young man would endure the attentions and even the loathsome caresses of someone like Jane for money. After all, people have done worse!

I used to think that the end scenes jarred with the rest of the film but now I’m convinced they blend perfectly, or should I say contrast perfectly with, what comes before. Jane is a horrible person, yes, but is it entirely her own fault? You’ll be able to decide for yourself after you see the film.

There’s a stunning twist at the end and also a doll that looks like Nellie Olson from LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE in it. What more could anyone ask for?

It was in its own way a groundbreaking movie in its hideously unflattering portrayal of the older woman and it led to other similar films being made, including Robert Aldrich’s own HUSH HUSH, SWEET CHARLOTTE (1964), again starring the divine Ms. Davis.

Anyway, you guys go and enjoy this terrific old movie again. I’ve got to write yet another letter to Daddy, who by the way never writes back, I’m just saying. Anyone got a stamp, or will kisses do again…?

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

lucy keyes

THE LEGEND OF LUCY KEYES. (2006) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

lucy keyesTHE LEGEND OF LUCY KEYES. 2006. WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY JOHN STIMPSON. STARRING JULIE DELPY, JUSTIN THEROUX, BROOKE ADAMS, CASSIDY HINKLE AND MARK BOONE JUNIOR. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

There’s a lot of really complimentary stuff about this film written on the side of the DVD box, but for once I’m going to have to disagree with it. I enjoyed the film well enough and I found it mildly entertaining, but I did not think it was ‘a spectacularly well-crafted film’ and neither did I find it to be ‘downright creepy,’ much as I wanted it to be. It didn’t ‘bring out my goosebumps’ either, I’m sorry to say. My apologies to all the lovely people who wrote these kind statements. I kind of feel like I’m making a mockery of all their hard work, haha.

I love films like this normally. You know, films based in New England, home to the infamous Salem Witch Trials of centuries ago. I love ’em whether they’re based in olden days (like THE WITCH, a terrific horror film in cinemas recently) or in modern times (like THE INHABITANTS, another great horror film by the Brothers Rasmussen which came out late 2015. They asked me to review that one personally, boast boast…!)

They’re often about ghostly goings-on in haunted houses or towns which, coupled with the fantastically sinister scenery for which the area is legendary, can send the shivers right up and down the viewer’s spine. I really wanted to love THE LEGEND OF LUCY KEYES, but I’m afraid the only shivers I got while viewing it were caused by the draught from the sitting-room door. I know I’m not usually this catty, so you’ll have to put it down to my bitter disappointment. Or my womanly hormones, haha.

It’s certainly got all the right ingredients for a good old chiller. Nice normal family move into a New England house with a colourful past, check. Miles and miles of spooky, atmospheric woods surrounding the house, check. Crazy, unwelcoming neighbours warning the family to get out of town, check. A nice scary legend (a lost child and a mother half-crazed with grief searching for her offspring day and night) to provide a reason for the haunting. Check too. It’s even ‘Based On A True Story,’ which is usually good for a proper old fright-fest.

Somewhere along the line, however, the film loses its way. It’s not scary at all, for one thing. I’m afraid that the few special effects it has are not very good. Despite the wonderful setting, it’s woefully short on a good atmosphere. The family are not terribly likeable either. Dad is just useless, really, shrugging his shoulders and standing by while Mom becomes more and more hysterical about the legend of the missing child and the ghostly, ever-seeking mother.

Mom is very wishy-washy. Beautiful and blonde she may be, but she’s the kind of horror movie mom who spends most of her time moping around the town library mooching through old newspaper cuttings and old yellowed books trying to find out why her house is haunted. If she paid half as much attention to her kids as she does to the library microfiche, they wouldn’t be tumbling out of lofts and breaking their bones or hiding in cupboards belonging to the Crazy Old Pig-man, there, I’ve said it.

The story is weak in places and confusing in others. The wind turbine story and the land deal story interested me not at all, I’m afraid. I liked Dad’s business partner Samantha, at least she had chutzpah. The little girl Lucy is as cute as a button and genuinely adorable. Her gorgeous bedroom furnishings and the lilacs and blues contained therein had me ooh-ing and aah-ing all through the film. The forgotten child, Molly, to whom her parents seem to pay zero attention… Well, I’m afraid I’ve forgotten her. Just like her Maw and Paw…!

Naturally, the film is chock-a-block with dazzling shots of what surely has to be one of the most beautiful places in the world. You can’t fault these images. I recently bought an old hardback book called NEW ENGLAND WILDS (from THE AMERICAN WILDERNESS/TIME LIFE BOOKS series) which is filled with pictures of some of the stunning scenery there. I know you can look at endless pictures online nowadays but ‘Egg-head loves her booky-wook!, as Homer Simpson might say.

This is a perfectly entertaining film if you’re not expecting too much from it. It’s not scary at all, though, and it lacks the chilling atmosphere of other horror films set in New England. Also, as I said, the script is weak and lacks punch and cohesion. I think that’s about it. What’s that…? Yes, as it happens it is the ‘wrong time of the month,’ why ever do you ask…?

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

langoliers

STEPHEN KING’S THE LANGOLIERS. (1995) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

langoliersSTEPHEN KING’S THE LANGOLIERS. (1995) BASED ON THE NOVELLA BY STEPHEN KING. DIRECTED BY TOM HOLLAND. STARRING PATRICIA WETTIG, DAVID MORSE, DEAN STOCKWELL, MARK LINDSAY CHAPMAN, KATE MABERLY, FRANKIE FAISON, BAXTER HARRIS, KIMBER RIDDLE, CHRISTOPHER COLLET, BRONSON PINCHOT AND STEPHEN KING. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Though I’m reviewing this excellent Stephen King adaptation as a film, it was originally aired as a two-part television mini-series back in the mid-‘Nineties. I saw it myself on TV in the late ‘Nineties when I was just a young one and my mind was totally blown by it.

To this day, it’s one of my favourite book-to-film (sorry, mini-series!) adaptations of Mr. King’s, along with THE MIST, DOLORES CLAIBORNE, MISERY, MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE, CARRIE, IT, THE SHINING and BAG OF BONES. As always when I list these, there are probably a few which I’m overlooking. I’m sure you guys can name the ones I’ve forgotten!

THE LANGOLIERS is a novella, or really long short story, from FOUR PAST MIDNIGHT, a big thick book of four novellas. The other three novellas are THE LIBRARY POLICEMAN, THE SUN DOG and SECRET WINDOW, SECRET GARDEN, which was made into a film starring the utterly swoonsome and delicious Johnny Depp.

When I watched THE LANGOLIERS in two parts back in the day, it was electrifying. The first ninety minutes naturally ended on a cliffhanger and I was left petrified, wondering: ‘Who or what is coming? Is it really ‘the langoliers?’ And who or what are ‘the langoliers,’ anyway? Are they monsters? They must be monsters! Why else would everyone be so scared?’

I’ll admit to you guys now that, on the second and final night of the mini-series, I was a tad disappointed by the ‘reveal’ of the titular ‘langoliers.’ Now, years later and having watched the film (I call it a film, okay…?!) many more times since then, I’m fine with them. I love them now. But I’m not under any circumstances going to tell you what they are or what their deal is…!

I really think that this is one of Stephen King’s most finely-crafted stories. It concerns a flight from Los Angeles to Boston that really does turn out to be a journey into a kind of hell. Ten people wake up from a nap to find that, other than themselves, the entire crew, the pilot and all the other passengers have completely disappeared, leaving behind… what?

Good question. What they’ve left behind always struck me as being one of the most fascinating parts of the film. Not only have they vanished without their books, spectacles, wallets, passports and even hairpieces, but things that would surely have come from inside them, like pacemakers and dental bridge-work, are also sitting abandoned on their chairs. The ten survivors are freaked-out like you wouldn’t believe at their new Twilight Zone-style circumstances.

The survivors aren’t entirely without luck, however. In fact, they’re damned fortunate in terms of who exactly made the cut onto the survivors’ list. They have a pilot among their number (coincidentally enough!), a mystery writer who’s great at figuring out riddles, an English assassin who can figure his way out of any tricky situation you care to name and, finally, a psychic little blind girl who can- sort of- predict the future and who can tell the group important stuff about what they need to do next and stuff. You know, that kind of stuff.

Oh, and there’s also a soon-to-be-middle-aged schoolmarm whose biological clock is no doubt ticking its arse off and who’s on a mission to find a man, whether it’s a Secret Service Agent with a rather charming way with proboscises or a recently-bereaved airline pilot with a strong reliable moustache in a reassuring shade of grey. Recently-bereaved? That makes him ripe for the picking, surely? I’m telling you this for nothing, this little missy’s bringing someone home to meet the folks, one way or another…!

I’m not going to tell you (though I’m dying to!) what it is that’s happened to everyone else on the plane and why it is that the enormous plane is flying on autopilot over an America that doesn’t seem to have anyone at all left alive in it.  I think you’ll agree that that’s an extremely eerie concept.

Understandably, the group are beside themselves with panic. Has there been a nuclear attack that they missed while they were napping? (That would have to have been some nap!) Is it a government conspiracy of some sort? Are they dreaming, or have they all just gone stark raving mad…?

As keen as they are, though, to safely land the plane on American soil and thereby stop all of the wandering aimlessly around the empty skies, I wouldn’t be in such a hurry if I were them. What’s waiting for them on the ground might be even worse than the journey from hell. It might just be something so bad that they couldn’t even have dreamed it up in their worst nightmares and getting away from it may just be murder, heh-heh-heh…

Stephen King, who by the way plays a funny little cameo in the film, has some incredibly interesting ideas on the subject of time and time-travel which even I found fascinating, and I usually zone right out when people start talking science to me. But his ideas I loved, and I found ’em totally believable as well, if only for the purpose of this sci-fi/horror film. I’m absolutely dying to tell you about the time rip that resembles a cross between The Totally Groovy Eye Of Sauron and a psychedelic vagina, but for once I’ll keep my trap shut. Well, nearly shut…!

Bronson Pinchot, who played Balki in odd-couple situation comedy Perfect Strangers, is great as poor demented Craig Toomy, whose manic behaviour can all be explained away by the appalling psychological abuse he suffered at the hands of his father in his childhood. I loved the mystery writer too and the guy who was always mooching about for something to eat. Rehab girl was just annoying. Hellooooo, did women just not wear bras in the ‘Nineties, then?

Patricia Wettig, from ‘Eighties drama serial thirtysomething, is someone I’ve always found to be as drippy as her name. Miaow…! She’s actually okay in this, however, as the desperate-not-to-be-single-at-her-age schoolmarm who takes it upon herself to mother the little blind girl. What’s that I was saying about her biological clock? Oh yeah, it’s ticking loud enough to wake the dead. The dead in Outer Mongolia. The Outer Mongolia on the moon. Jupiter’s moon, that is. The farthest moon away from Earth. Haha. You get my drift.

The slow and steady build-up of suspense and tension in the film is what makes it so brilliant. I’ve always just found this to be an incredibly clever and entertaining watch, one of the King’s finest ever film adaptations. I recommend it for a night when you want to just sit down for a few hours and shut out the world. Pizza would almost certainly be required. The three hours you spend watching this will by no means be a waste of time, which is just as well. Sadly, having watched the film, we now know what happens to time-wasters…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

gerry conlon

IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER. (1993) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

gerry conlonIN THE NAME OF THE FATHER. (1993) DIRECTED, PRODUCED AND CO-WRITTEN BY JIM SHERIDAN, THE DIRECTOR OF ‘MY LEFT FOOT.’ BASED ON THE BOOK PROVED INNOCENT: THE STORY OF GERRY CONLON OF THE GUILDFORD FOUR BY GERRY CONLON. STARRING DANIEL DAY-LEWIS, PETE POSTLETHWAITE, JOHN LYNCH, MARK SHEPPARD, BEATIE EDNEY, CORIN REDGRAVE, GERARD MCSORLEY AND EMMA THOMPSON. ©

I’m not normally a big fan of the actor Daniel Day-Lewis, but there’s no doubt that he does a top-notch job in this superb film, which I recently re-watched on Saint Patrick’s Day 2016 after waiting a whopping nine hours for a chicken to defrost. Yes, we ate the dinner at eleven o’clock that night. That’s just the way things sometimes go at my house. Anyway, DD-L plays Gerry Conlon here, one of four people wrongly convicted of the IRA’s Guildford Pub Bombings back in 1974.

Gerry, at the time of his wrongful conviction, was a feckless young eejit from Belfast newly-arrived in London with his equally mad-cap chum Paul Hill. All they wanted to do was smoke dope and get off with the long-haired hippie chicks in the squat which dubiously served as their digs.

At the time of the bombings, they were both somewhere else. Petty thieves and messers they may have been, but they did not do the bombings. According to the film, the English police weren’t unduly troubled by the little matter of the truth. It seems like they just wanted to pin the atrocities on someone and Gerry, his father Giuseppe, his Auntie Annie Maguire, Paul Hill and two occupants of the squat, Paddy Armstrong and Carole Richardson, were easy prey.

The scenes of chaos as Gerry and his friends and family are first arrested and then variously sentenced to up to thirty years in prison are gripping and even unbelievable, in the sense that you can’t believe that such an obvious miscarriage of justice is taking place before your eyes. ‘But we know he wasn’t there!’ we want to yell at the screen. ‘We saw him kipping on the park bench with Paul and the tramp!’ But there’s no saving the Guildford Four, as they became known.

Gerry goes into prison as a young greenhorn who doesn’t seem to want to take responsibility for his plight. Over the years, however, he becomes more focused on helping himself, particularly after the tragic death in prison of his father, brilliantly and sympathetically played by cuddly old Pete Postlethwaite. His nomination for Best Supporting Actor at the Academy Awards was only one of seven nominations garnered by this terrific film.

Patrick ‘Giuseppe’ Conlon or ‘Da,’ as Gerry calls him, is my favourite character. He’s just a typical parent. He’s not ‘cool’ or glamorous or exciting, just like most parents aren’t, he’s just ‘Da,’ and all he wants is for his son to do well in life. Gerry, on the other hand, just wants to doss around and have a laugh. Gerry and Giuseppe have a complicated relationship, which prison actually gives them a chance to work out. In the film, at least.

I always thought it was odd that the prison authorities would be so kind and accommodating as to allow father and son to bunk in together for the duration of their sentences. I made this observation to friends and family every time I watched the film. It turns out I was right for once, haha. Not only were they not roomies, they apparently were held in separate prisons! This was changed for the film, obviously. I wonder if Gerry ever actually met the real perpetrator of the Guildford Pub Bombings as well like he does in the film?

Also, the Conlons’ lawyer Gareth Peirce, well-played by Emma Thompson, did not actually represent Gerry in court because she was a solicitor and not a barrister. This was another change made for the film. Well…! I don’t mind so much about that bit, but if Gerry and his poor sick ‘Da’ were held in separate prisons, does that mean that the two men did not work out their differences before Giuseppe passed away in prison? That makes me really sad.

‘Look Da, Gerry’s a hippy…!’ Check out the state of Gerry Conlon in his ridiculous new hippy threads, marching through the streets of Belfast to the strains of ‘Dedicated Follower Of Fashion’ by The Kinks. Also check out Gareth Peirce mischievously handing over the paper she’s sneezed on to the snooty security guard.

Gerard McSorley, famous here in Ireland for playing fraudulent priest Todd Unctuous in the Father Ted Christmas Special, does a great job as the detective who terrorises a confession out of a bemused Gerry.

‘He threatened to shoot my Da! He threatened to shoot my Da!’

Songstress Sinead O’Connor also does a smashing job of singing ‘You Made Me The Thief Of Your Heart’ as the credits are rolling. It’s a haunting piece of music written by (for all you pop-pickers out there!) Bono, Gavin Friday and Maurice Seezer.

I like Beatie Edney too as Carole Richardson, and the woman who plays ‘my Auntie Annie.’ Unfortunately, I can’t find a name for her but she’s perfect for the role. Brisk, no-nonsense and appropriately sceptical of Gerry’s and Paul’s immature, irresponsible behaviour, she’s exactly the kind of Auntie everyone should have, haha.

Carole Richardson, to Gerry, in the squat as she goes through his suitcase: ‘He’s got dead pig in here!’

Gerry: ‘Whaaat? Them? They’re just a few sausages for my Auntie Annie!’

Bringing sausages, rashers of bacon and teabags to relatives abroad is a particularly Irish thing to do. Apparently, a load of Irish people have smuggled sausages abroad in their luggage. They’re items that we Irish set a lot of store by, see? A nice fried breakfast and a cup of tea and all your problems are halfway to being solved.

Anyway, this film is a wonderful piece of film-making, despite the few ‘tweaks’ that were apparently made to the facts! Based on Gerry Conlon’s book, it’s naturally a film that’s sympathetic to Gerry and his co-accused, and the British police are portrayed as either brutal thugs or rich, cold and uncaring snobs who just want to draw a line under a particularly unpleasant crime. Check out the title cards at the end of the film which tell us what happened to everyone after the case finally ended. You might be surprised by some of what you read.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

smaug

THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY AND THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG. A DOUBLE REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

smaugTHE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY/THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG. A DOUBLE REVIEW OF FANTASTICAL AND PERILOUS MIDDLE-EARTH SHENANIGANS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY. (2012) DIRECTED BY PETER JACKSON. BASED ON THE BOOK BY J.R.R. TOLKIEN. STARRING MARTIN FREEMAN, IAN HOLM, IAN MCKELLEN, RICHARD ARMITAGE, AIDAN TURNER, JAMES NESBITT, ELIJAH WOOD, ANDY SERKIS, HUGO WEAVING, MANU BENNETT, CATE BLANCHETT, BARRY HUMPHRIES, ORLANDO BLOOM, BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH, LEE PACE AND CHRISTOPHER LEE.

THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG. (2013) DIRECTED BY PETER JACKSON. BASED ON THE BOOK BY J.R.R. TOLKIEN. STARRING MARTIN FREEMAN, IAN HOLM, IAN MCKELLEN, RICHARD ARMITAGE, AIDAN TURNER, JAMES NESBITT, LEE PACE, STEPHEN FRY, MANU BENNETT, CATE BLANCHETT, ORLANDO BLOOM, EVANGELINE LILLY AND LUKE EVANS.

These two films are the first and second instalments of a trilogy of films directed by Peter Jackson, who roughly a decade earlier had already given us possibly the best movie trilogy of all time. I’m referring of course to the three THE LORD OF THE RINGS films, which could never be bettered, not even by Mr. Jackson himself.

It’s no insult to the genius director to say that, by the way. His trilogy of films based on Tolkien’s book THE HOBBIT is a fabulously gripping and entertaining watch. It’s just that TLOTR is so good that nothing was ever really going to top it. THE HOBBIT films certainly gave us lovers of the original trilogy something to live for again. I’ll never forget those thrilling hours sitting in the darkened cinema in late December or early January way back at the turn of the millenium watching the battle for Middle Earth unfold on the screen in front of me. Utterly unforgettable.

THE HOBBIT films, both THE UNEXPECTED JOURNEY and THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG, are set in Middle Earth sixty years before all the stuff that happens in TLOTR. Bilbo Baggins, wonderfully played by Martin Freeman, is younger and not quite as crotchety as his older self. He lives a nice quiet life in the picturesque Shires and minds his own bloody business, just like we all should do, haha.

Bilbo, quite against his better judgement, is persuaded by Gandalf the Wizard to accompany a company of thirteen Dwarves (not the SNOW WHITE kind, the Middle Earth kind!) on a dangerous quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain, their former home, and the magnificent treasure of Erebor, from the deadly dragon, Smaug.

The scenes in which the Dwarves all descend on a horrified Bilbo in his cosy little Hobbit-Hole and literally eat him out of house and home before tidying up perfectly while singing a song are among my favourite of the first film. The nomadic Dwarves are kind-hearted but plain-speaking. They’re also a bit coarse and rough around the edges and probably not Bilbo’s usual cup of tea at all. He’s not much of a one for company, you see, especially when they didn’t phone ahead first.

See, Bilbo’s a lot like me. We both like our armchairs, our books and our home comforts. I’m not much of a one for going on adventures either. When his ‘adventure-bone’ is tickled by Gandalf and he commits to going on this highly perilous and probably even ultimately pointless trip, you just know that the Dwarves are going to end up knocking a few of his sharp pointy corners off before the journey’s over.

The strange little company spend the first film journeying to their faraway destination, and the second film initially trying to gain access to the Lonely Mountain and then pissing off the sleeping dragon to the point where he’s forced to wake up from his nap and start getting seriously proactive.

Along the way, Bilbo, Gandalf and the brave little Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield, have to face any number of mythical and fantastical opponents, all of whom want to impede their progress. There are hideous, unscrupulous Orcs and toothsome Wargs again. They’re brilliant! There are Cockney-talking trolls, Stone Giants and Dame Edna Everage. As the Goblin King, I mean! Not as herself, haha.

Bilbo even meets Gollum and has his first, highly significant, encounter with a certain Ring, if you know what I mean. Bilbo’s game of riddles with the ‘tricksy’ Gollum is funny and witty and it just makes you want to scoop the bony, knobbly-spined creature into your arms and cuddle him to bits, he’s so sweet in it. I’m talking about Gollum here, by the way, not Bilbo! That’s not to say that he’s not cute in it too though, mind you…

We’ve got the truly horrendous giant spiders of Mirkwood which, if you’re in any way arachnaphobic, you won’t be able to stomach. They’re revolting, with their giant egg-filled sacs (what a disgusting word!) and long hairy legs. Kudos, as always, to the creators of these amazing creatures. We’ve also got posh Stephen Fry as the odious, self-serving ruler of the dreary-looking Laketown and Benedict Cumberbatch as the nasty Necromancer and the voice of Smaug The Dragon.

We’ve got Smaug himself, of course, one of the best cinema dragons I’ve ever seen, if not the best. His underground cavern, in which he is disturbed by Bilbo & Co. noisily searching for the powerful jewel the Arkenstone, is a sight for sore eyes. My favourite beastie of all, however, has the greatest name for a villain of all time: Azog The Defiler…!

He’s just such a brilliant character. Pure evil, this Orc war-chief, also known as the Pale Orc, has had it in for Thorin ever since he fought with and beheaded Thorin’s grandfather Thror in a great battle years ago. We see a bit of this battle and it’s terrific. The battles are always my favourite bits of these films. Azog’s huge, he swings a massively deadly mace and is completely devoid of compassion or feeling. Thorin Oakenshield would like a pop at his Grand-daddy’s murderer himself, however, so the stage is set for some major revenge-getting…

Does Bilbo earn his stripes, by the way, and also the respect of the Dwarves who in the beginning doubted his ability to stay the course? Will Thorin Oakenshield grudgingly admit that maybe the Hobbit is a good guy to have around in a crisis after all? All will be revealed in the fullness of time, folks. Don’t forget that there’s a third equally briliant film in the trilogy, THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES, in which all will be revealed.

My one gripe with the trilogy is that the Dwarves are somewhat- how to put this delicately?- pulchritudinously-challenged. Which is to say that, um, they’re, ah, quite ugly. There’s no-one for me to fancy in it, sadly. I’m not into Elves, unfortunately, so Legolas, hot as he is, kind of leaves me cold. Luke Evans as Bard doesn’t quite make up for the lack of a sweaty, stubbly Aragorn.

Christopher Lee makes one of his last screen appearances ever in AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY, however, so that fact alone makes the trilogy memorable. It’s a hell of a trilogy. I wish there was something of Tolkien’s left for Peter Jackson to make another trilogy out of. Did he leave a will, maybe, or a shopping list or a note to the cleaner? I don’t care what it is, I’ll go and see it. Me and my medium popcorn. (Why medum…? Because even Homer Simpson thinks that movie popcorn’s gotten too big…!)

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

the witch

THE WITCH. 2016. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

the witchTHE WITCH. 2016. WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY ROBERT EGGERS. STARRING ANYA TAYLOR-JOY, RALPH INESON, KATE DICKIE,  HARVEY SCRIMSHAW, ELLIE GRAINGER, LUCAS DAWSON, SARAH STEPHENS AND BATHSHEBA GARNETT. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

To the people who’ve commented that this film is more of a drama than a horror, I say: ‘Have you been watching the same film we’ve all been watching?’ This film is a horror film. There can surely to God be no doubt about that. It’s got witches, the Devil in the form of a black goat, murder, creepy-as-hell woods, black magic, disturbingly excessive religious zeal, demonic possession and demonic nudie-ness. You’ll know it when you see it!

To those who’ve remarked that the film is slow-moving and boring and nothing happens in it till the last ten minutes, again I say: ‘Are you not watching the same film as the rest of us?’ Stuff happens in this film almost right from the get-go. There are quiet periods in it which allow us to process the action bits. The exact right pace is sustained throughout the film.

Listen, I’m not kidding you here. This is the best new horror film I’ve seen in a long time.  It was the ‘Surprise Film’ of the Irish Film Institute’s 2015 Horrorthon and the audience loved it. A friend advised me to run to see it rather than wait around wasting time and risk missing it. Now I’m advising you guys to do the same.

Yes, you can see it when it comes out on DVD but if you want my opinion, a darkened cinema with a nice big screen is the optimum way to view this superbly-crafted horror movie. It’s so good that it’s hard to believe it’s the directorial debut of its creator, Robert Eggers. It’s exciting to think about what he might come up with in the future.

It’s the story of a family of deeply religious 17th century New England settlers. After they are expelled from their community because of the dad’s conflicting beliefs, they set off into the wilderness in search of a new home for themselves. They are forced to set up camp outside a lonely forest that just screams ‘evil’ from the moment we see it. That bodes well, I hear you say…!

I like the family. They’re just poor farmers trying to scrape a meagre existence from the hostile land they’ve settled in. William and Catherine have five kids. There’s Thomasin, the eldest daughter, general dogsbody and scapegoat whenever anything goes wrong in the family. Caleb is at that awkward age where he can’t stop peeking at his older sister’s boobies. Jonah and Mercy are the mischievous wee twins and Samuel is the cutest baby you’ve ever seen.

Tragedy strikes the family within the first quarter of an hour of the film’s starting. It’s probably the worst kind of tragedy you can think of. It’s clear that there’s something terribly evil in the forest next to which they’ve built their little farm. It’s not long before this tragedy is followed by another horrific disaster for the poor beleaguered family. It’s beginning to look like they’re cursed. Who or what has brought this plague of hideous misfortunes down upon their heads? Surely not one of their own…?

They pray and pray and pray, as is their way when adversity comes, and yet the troubles keep piling up. They turn on each other and the accusations of witchcraft are being flung back and forth like a tennis ball between Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic. At one point, it’s kind of like that episode of THE SIMPSONS about witchcraft  when everyone’s accusing everyone else of being witches and Homer Simpson ridiculously says: ‘I accuse Goody Flanders!’

Paranoia, mistrust and sheer unadulterated panic are tearing this poor little struggling family of farmers apart. Can they hold it together or will they succumb to the festering evil in the forest? You’ll have to watch this excellent horror film to find out, folks.

Some scenes can easily be described as heartstopping or even electrifying. Caleb, lost in the forest, finds himself irresistibly drawn to a dark little dwelling. It’s not quite a gingerbread house, but its occupant is just as frightening. I defy you not to jump out of your skin at that bit.

The scene when the kids have been locked in the barn by their dad and they realise that they’re not alone, well, that bit’s already been in my nightmares since watching the film. As for Thomasin in the barn on her own with the goat at the end…! I had chills all over my body.

I love that this film really delivers the goods. The ‘witch’ isn’t an annoying, unsatisfactory metaphor, but I’ll say no more about that for fear of the dreaded ‘spoilers,’ haha. It doesn’t leave you with any irritating unanswered questions, which pleased me. I’m sick of leaving the cinema scratching my head in puzzlement over the obscurity of some movies’ endings.

And the film does so live up to its hype, in my humble opinion. The scenery is magnificent also. I always appreciate gorgeous scenery. One particular shot of the everlasting sky and the landscape even looks like it was painted by an Old Master.

I love the ending too, though I’ve heard some people say that they were disappointed by it. It’s historically accurate though, like the period costumes and old-fashioned dialogue (the director apparently did exhaustively painstaking research), so I accept it for what it is and find it both thrilling and scary. Read up on your New England folk horror and you’ll find stuff like that in there, which is obviously flippin’ terrifying to think about. It’s probably one of the spookiest parts of world history ever.

I’ll end with an observation and also a serious question for all you lovers of dairy products and fancy clobber. Firstly, the observation. Satanism kind of looks like fun. All that decadent nudie-ness and wildly abandoned dancing…! And now, the question:

‘Do you want to live deliciously…?’

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com