Lord Jim (1900) by Joseph Conrad

Categories: 1900, Books, and Fiction.

Conrad is perhaps my favourite (English language) writer from the turn of the last century. I find “The Secret Sharer” to be one of the greatest English language short stories ever written. And Nostromo is a favourite of mine. And yet it took me forever to get into this, considered by some to be among his very best work. The biggest hangup for me was pointed out by reviews at the time: Once Conrad eventually adopts Marlowe as the narrator (something that doesn’t happen immediately), we’re supposed to believe Marlowe is telling this story – a story that goes on Read More

TIFF 2015: Comoara aka The Treasure (2015, Conerliu Porumboiu) (8/15)

Categories: 2015 and Movies.

This is a gentle but amusing examination of life in contemporary Romania: the absurdities, the bureaucracy and the dreams that make those bearable. MILD SPOILERS The film suggests it is going one direction – a dark direction – but then does not ever go that direction and then, instead, the miraculous happens. It’s rather incredible that we live in a world now where “artificial” happy endings can feel fresh and new, but that’s what Porumboiu does here. He plays with recent film conventions to make an old Hollywood-style ending seem fresh and believable. 7/10 <<< Previous | Next >>> Read More

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007, Gore Verbinski)

Categories: 2004 and Movies.

I’ve generally enjoyed these movies way more than I ever thought I would, but this one is so ridiculous, so convoluted, so unbelievable that whatever goofiness really doesn’t make up for the mess. (Though, I can’t help but think that the second one was maybe more of a mess than I remember.) It shouldn’t be this hard to figure out what is going on in what is, essentially, a kid’s movie. The character motivations are entirely – and I mean entirely – at the service of the plot. And it’s sooo long. Oh, and the weird Once Upon a Time Read More

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010, Michael Apted)

Categories: 2010 and Movies.

Apted’s surer hand makes this possibly the best entry in the series – it’s obvious from the opening shot that a better director is involved. The movie is plagued by its usual problems with the source material – nobody is ever at risk – but things move so much more swiftly (this one is under 2 hours!!!) and some of the annoying things from the second movie (such as the bizarre accents) are missing. The problem for me, this time around, is the choice to go Pirate. As usual, I cannot know whether or not that was in the source Read More

The Prisoner of Zenda (1894) by Anthony Hope

Categories: 1894, Books, and Fiction.

I thought I was completely unfamiliar with this story as I had not seen the movie nor did I know anything about the book. However, it turns out that I have indeed seen a smilar movie, Dave! It turns out that story has been used over and over again by various people. I don’t know if this version is the original, though it’s clearly a spin on the “The Man in the Iron Mask” plot from one of the Three Musqueteers sequels. I personally prefer Dostoevsky’s take on this kind of idea – I would be far more likely to Read More

King Solomon’s Mines (1888) by H. Rider Haggard

Categories: 1888, Books, and Fiction.

I was only familiar with this story from the ’80s Hollywood version, which I had been told was drastically different from the book. Sure enough, it absolutely was. So much of it is utterly different as to be (nearly) a different story. But anyway… Putting aside the problems we may find in Victorian literature with how it portrays Africans versus Europeans… This was apparently the first “Lost World” novel, and for that I guess I need to acknowledge that it’s a significant landmark. It’s also the only “Lost World” novel I have read (though I have seen plenty of movies!), Read More

The Eagle (2011, Kevin Macdonald)

Categories: 2011 and Movies.

This movie tries really hard. It’s clear a lot of effort went into the film, including the costumes and, particularly, the use of Gaelic (even though, with a few minutes research, it turns out it likely wasn’t Gaelic they would have been speaking). But there are a couple of really annoying things that keep the movie from being competent. Tatum speaks with an accent – though that accent wavers between bad British and no accent – whereas nearly ever other English-speaking actor in the film (perhaps all of them) speak with their natural voices. Why did they let him try Read More

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014, Wes Anderson)

Categories: 2014 and Movies.

It’s not often I call a film ‘delightful’, but I can’t really think of another word for this entertaining and absolutely wonderful experience. I know nothing of Stefan Zweig but he and Anderson are a near-perfect match. Anderson has created a world that both seems inspired by and a tonic to Hollywood and European film versions of the old Eastern European resorts. Within that world, his usually kookiness operates and most of the time the tone and everything else work marevelously. A few times I fond the entire thing a little too coy, too cutesy (too fey?), but on the Read More

King Solomon’s Mines (1985, J. Lee Thompson)

Categories: 1985 and Movies.

This is one of those wannabe Raiders of the Lost Ark films, even though it is based on a novel from about 100 years earlier. But unlike some of the other ’80s adventure revivals, this is practically a copy of the Indiana Jones series, albeit with more (attempts at) humour. One could interpret it as a parody, but parodies are usually more clever than this. This film appears to just attempt to ape most things about Raiders (including the score, which is horribly derivative) without actually making fun of the movie in any obvious way. It’s more goofy Indian Jones rather than satirical Indiana Jones. This film isn’t remotely Read More

Romancing the Stone (1984, Robert Zemeckis)

Categories: 1984 and Movies.

I swear I had seen this movie before, but I’m not sure if it really was its sequel, or I’m just getting completely confused and thought it was King Solomon’s Mines. In any case, this is not the movie I thought it was. It is a very silly entry in what was part of the “adventure” genre revival after Raiders of the Lost Ark (probably the best Hollywood ‘adventure’ movie ever). I wanted to watch this and laugh at how bad this was – that was what fault memory told me – but it was actually intentionally funny, which was Read More

Congo (1995, Frank Marshall)

Categories: 1995 and Movies.

First of all, I thought I had seen this years ago but I remember about 15 minutes of it, so I guess not. Somewhere in here there might be a reasonably entertaining “jungle adventure” movie. Maybe. I have read a couple of Crichton’s novels, and they were better than their films. I am assuming the source material for this film wasn’t this flawed as a result. Putting aside how realistic the story isn’t, the film still could have been successful, but apparently the filmmakers decided their audience was not intelligent: the gorillas are people in suits, the setting often doesn’t Read More