joi, 21 decembrie 2023

Wonka (2023)

Wonka is the prequel to Roald Dahl's children classic book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964) -back then, when the children fares were bleak and dark and scary, which was cool;). Shamefully, no book by Dahl was ever published in communist Romania. I first hear about him as a screenwiter of Bond (You Only Live Twice) and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. 

The first film version of the book (which is huge in the world and especilly Anglo-Saxon culture) was called differently, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971, directed by Mel Stuart), with a brilliant Gene Wilder in one of his most beloved parts. Nice songs and dwarves dressed as Oompa Lumpas, but cheesy set design and so so production values and direction. More like a darker Disney childern film of that age.

I guess you have to grow up with the Oompa Loompas, which we didn't. So we just saw that 1971 film because a new version was coming out in 2005, the weirdly creepy Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, directed by Tim Burton, with scary score by Danny Elfman and a Marilyn Manson inspired weird-o performance by Johnny Depp.  Freaky and all-in-all a curio misfire.

So the idea of a prequel isn't bad, because it's explained in the book how Wonka was betrayed before by everybody and sacked finally all his workers and from then on he became a recluse and a mystery. Sort of like Howard Hughes ;). I liked specially the idea of the secret Willy's mother kept, 'cos that reflects a secret my father taught me in my childhood.

But the bet standing was to find an actor to be able to stand tall compared to Wilder and Depp and so, Timothee Chalamet was a risky bet but it works. Actually for me it is the 1st time I'm really liking the guy. The director and his vision was also a tricky choice. So, Paul King, the name didn't ring any bell to me. The director of Paddington and Paddington 2, two children films I haven't seen but I heard are very good. Though, something attracted me to Wonka. Might be the chocolate....

Another asset is Hugh Grant, as Lofty, the resourceful Oompa Lumpa, somehow Grant which I couldn't stand in his Rom Com nice boy days I like a lot these days, especially in his collaborations with Guy Ritchie in which he parodies himself silly (The Gentlemen, Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre). he came here via Paddington 2, in which he partook.

Good, inspired music by Jody Talbot and Neil Hannon, the guys from the band The Divine Comedy, Chalamet has a good voice and songs and cues are taken from the 1971 film (the Oompa Loompa song, Pure Imagination, etc.). A lot of the score sounded to me like Alexandre Desplat's music for Grand Budapest Hotel, or in that direction. 

Very good choreography and production values a sure plus. The budget sure helps, this is an 125 million $ production, the 1971 film cost then were 3 million $, even compared with inflation it's ten times more, heck of a budget. How many zillions of chocolates it that?

3 1/2 out of 5, 7 out of 10 !

luni, 18 decembrie 2023

LMA Keef @80 !!!

So Many Many how Many Returns, it's a historical day, one for them His Story books...

from now he is Eighty, mr. Keith Richards... the Human Riff, the X-pensive Wino, the Main Offender, the most original Pirate of Rock n Roll...

Do ya think it's a miracle?  Neh, he's  the man with five strings and nine lives. Maybe Ten. But I'm sure it goes to Eleven ;)

A proof of LIFE, indeed (in deed?), Charlie Watts got to enjoy only two months of his eighties so...think back at Brian Jones who only got 27 years to breathe :( , Lennon got shot at Forty, he would've been 83 now...Bobby Keys, who was born same day as Keith and was his best buddy in the band, died at 70 !, and Robbie Robertson, got to enjoy a month of his Eighties, just after completed his best soundtrack ever, for Killers of the Flower Moon...

so, Happy 4 ya, Keef !!!  

see here what I wished him at 70 !

Also the new RS record, Hackney Diamonds is imo the album of the year ! 

The Stones I've seen Seven times over four decades and six different countries, and yes, now I have the feeling I might see them one more time...

Wicked As it Seems, yeah ;)

                                                  Chapeau ? Mais, oui ;)

‘I gave up cigarettes in 2019, heroin in 1978, cocaine in 2006... but I still like a drink’ (Keef)

...we're sympathising, will have one (or how many?) for you 2 day, my oh's also my 3000th post, man, Three Thousand Posts of Longing ;)
I took out the records, TALK is CHEAP.... ;)

duminică, 17 decembrie 2023

Napoleon (2023)

 work in progress...or regress...

cos' so many asked me about this, and if i liked it, or is it good, and why this and that...

Well, as far as it goes, for me it was the biggest disappointment of 2023 (see my faved here).

Some expected this like the 2nd coming, I gave up on sir Rid some time ago (last cool one was The Counselor and that was 10 years ago...), I have huge reservations on Alien: Covenant which I appreciated then, as I did with the beginning of Raised by Wolves series, and tahn he killed it, he self-imploded his best films with adding crap to their coda-Blade Runner and Alien that is...I hope he won't f**k up the Gladiator thing too...well, which Gladiator, aha, aka The son of Maxxxximussss...

well, the main problem isn't dramaturgy as some say, or the timing (and I am very sure a 4 hour length won't improve it..) but the casting of  mr. Joaquin "joker" Phoenix as Nap B., in a cross between his Commodus (from 2000's Gladiator) and Joker (2019). An Emo Napoleon ? you got one....Napoleon is Afraid ;)

Ok, now 3 Oscar nods, for set, visual f/x and biggie
I liked the music (by Martin Phipps, newcomer on Sir Rid's team) much better than on the last Ridley Scott films, and that was its best asset. 
No performances, no nothing. I started to write about it in Romanian and was kinda mean to it. made me see again WATERLOO (1970), which I saw as a kid on the big screen and was uber-impressed and I gotta acknowledge again that it's such a better film still. And Rod Steiger rulezzz, and he's the man.

also there's the Stanley Kubrick paradoxxx-because Waterloo was a flop Kubrick did not get to do his Napoleon. And that is a pity. Nap B. was to be played by Jack Nicholson. Yes. And they were supposed to shoot in Romania, 'cos we got em horses and costumes. Didn't happen. Kubrick did Brry Lyndon instead, giving Ryan O'Neal a life eternally. 

I have butto see the 5h30 restored cut to see of Abel Gance's Napoleon (1927).  They worked 30 years to redo that. And the original cut was 7 hours. So, even at 4 hours, a Scott Director's cut I guess it won't change the cue too much.

Boy and the Heron, The (2023)

The Boy and the Heron / Kimitachi wa dô ikiru ka /Baiatul și stârcul/ is playing in Romanian theaters (distributor's communique here) .  Amazingly. I guess it's a also the first film by Hayao Miyazaki to play here (well, Ponyo played also in theaters). I saw it (in Japanese, with Romanian subtitles) on Friday, opening night and was enchanted & mesmerized.

The other one I saw on a cinema was Spirited Away / Chichujiro at a festival I guess, in Elvira Popescu in Bucharest.  But his films are avaliable to stream on Netflix, also in the subtitled Japanese version, not dubbed in English, from Porco Rosso to Kiki's Delivery Service, Howl's Moving Castle, Nausicaa, My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Ponyo to Spirited Away, his best film imo, and The Wind Rises, his last film up to Heron, in 2013. I mean it's a golden treasure, espcially for those who looked for these films years and years, before streaming and internet downloads.

Heron it's one of this year best films, best soundtracks (beautiful score by Joe Hisaishi, legendary Japanese composer which I personally know from Takeshi Kitano in the early 90's), and it will win the Oscar for animation for sure. And the Golden Globe. But more so, it's one of Miyazaki's forte, his comeback after 10 years, at 82. He could only animate about one minute of film per month so the work on the film took more than 5 years (he started it in 2016). A very sensible film, hand-drawn as all Ghibli films, and Japan's most expensive film to date. Also a world box office record.

I empathize all these facts because I was amazed of how many people who like films haven't heard of him and/or don't wanna go see this cos it's an animee. Get a grip and get to the cinema ! Then talk to me. ok?
The Japanese title// Kimitachi wa dô ikiru ka / (translated as "How Do You Live?") is the same as a 1937 novel by Genzaburô Yoshino, writer of children's literature, the book has significant meaning for the main character in the film.

sâmbătă, 9 decembrie 2023

RIP Ryan O'Neal

Ryan O'Neal is gone, he died on December 8th 2023 in Santa Monica. He was 82...

His only Oscar nomination was for Love Story (1970). 

Though all his other parts were better, this was what the audiences identified him with. His problem was he was too beautiful and charismatic and also maybe didn't improve in the acting domain (like Redford did, or go into directing, etc), Maybe he should've.

Wild Rovers

What's Up, Doc?

Paper Moon


The Driver

Barry Lyndon

A Bridge Too Far

All great parts and classics of the Seventies. Except maybe, The Thief Who came to Dinner (1973). The computer subject is too over dated 2day.  He ended his most brilliant decade with Oliver's Story, a maligned sequel to Love Story in 1979. 

I guess O'Neal was thinking, especially after the flops of Barry Lyndon, The Driver and Nickelodeon, "why bother?". A Bridge Too Far / Un pod prea indepartat (1977) was at the time the most expensive film ever made and when it came out, no one wanted to see it. Maybe it made its money back by today, great war flick anyway, I was too young when It played in theaters, or something, I missed it 'til DVD dayz (& nights). Well, Wild Rovers in 1971 a beautiful elegiac western by Blake Edwards, was also a flop, due to the downbeat ending, and the timing of the release. I was amazed when I finally saw in on TNT in gorgeous widescreen. You can see it all on youtube, great copy)

First time I saw him on the big screen in The Main Event (, 1979), which reunited him with Barbra Streisand for a minor comedy after their uber hit What's Up, Doc? (Peter Bogdanovich, 1972). Also ca$h in was the Romanian title, Love story pe ring !!! Ryan plays a washed-up boxer, and that's whht he was before he became an  Actor.

Also with Bogdanovich he did Paper Moon (1973), where he acted along his daughter, Tatum O'Neal, who won an Oscar for Supporting Actress, at 10 being the youngest person to do so in the history of films, and Nickelodeon (1976), a misfire at the time, but that today seems intimate arthouse fare compared to a film like Babylon (2022). And of course his part for Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon (1975), a flop then, and today considered one of the best films ever made. full point, and my soft spot, The Driver, the existentialist neo-noir by Walter Hill (1978).

Unfortunately the Eighties were not his decade, he had a troubled life and later career. Green Ice (Gheata verde), a minor film he did in 1981 was a recrudescent entry in Romanian Theaters in the Eighties. I mean, they played it all the time... and it was a mediocre film. Totally forgetabble. I rememeber it so well cos I had to see it too many times and even I wrote my first piece of published film critism on that (compared with Tarkovski's Stalker !!!, yep, published in the local newspaper, "Drum Nou" (New Road) in 1998, thanks dad, well, it was for mom, named in the piece as a lady who likes "nice films" and "nice scenery". My critique on her kalofilia....The Main Event also I saw with mom and dad at the Popular Cinema in Brasov, I remember, it was an after ski event, came from the ski directly to the theatre 'cos my dad knew the manager (Mrs. Nicolau, and she helped me 5-6 years later to start presenting films there, oh boy was I shy, but did it did me good....), and we left the skis and sticks in the cloak room, and afterwards left on Dupa Ziduri (after the Walls). I mean, we did that a lot (House Calls and Goodbye Girl were other Romantic comedies fares we saw there that way). 
But really, going back to Ryan, if you wanna see a UFO, i mean, outthere in the woods (lost), see Tough Guys Don't Dance (1987), A Cannon fodder entry, directed (?) by Norman Mailer, based on his novel. Well, I just saw it now again (it's also on youtube), and well, it's totally worth a new look.

More Ryan recent fares were mostly cameos, the producer in Burn, Hollywood, Burn: An Alan Smithee Film! (1987), oy, oy, the tycoon in Zero Effect (1998), whoever in People I Know (2002), yes, that was the name for all of that, played in theaters no less. The last time I saw him in The Knight of Cups (2015), Malick's maliquesque -read:[most self indulgent], where he is basically himeslf. If you wanna check his blink-and-miss scenes, the film is now on HBO Max.

vineri, 8 decembrie 2023

RIP Denny Laine

Denny Laine, guitarist, vocalist, bass player, keyboardist and harmonica man, co-founder of WINGS with Paul McCartney and co-founder  of The Moody Blues died on December 5th 2023 in Naples, Florida. He got to 79 on October 29th (was born in 1944 in Portsmouth, England) :(((

He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Moody Blues in 2018.

He also played with Ginger Baker's Air Force. 

-Article on MSN here

I know him from childhood one of of my favourite records (on vinyl no less ;) was BAND ON THE RUN (1973), with that most iconic cover, "the great escape", where Macca, Linda and Denny are featured along James Coburn, Christopher Lee et more. Denny is the one kneeling.

"Picasso's Last Words (Drink to Me)" "Drink to me, drink to my health. You know I can't drink anymore

vineri, 1 decembrie 2023

Bruce Dickinson-Afterglow of Raganarok (SOTD)

"Morte capti, non carcere". 


The Mandrake Project is the new ambitious concept-project of Bruce Dickinson, his 7th solo album (7th Son...?). The album will come out March 1st 2024. Complete with a comic book that helps tell his H.P. Lovecraft-esque story. 

Here is the 1st video, Afterglow of Raganarok, directed by Ryan Mackfall and Produced by

The video begins with a William Blake quote: "I must create a system, or be enslaved by another man's. I will not reason and compare, my business is to create."

IMO it's a very ambitious epic story told without the means of enough budget and the right sf/x. As The Chemical Wedding film was, we'll see if it ups up.

The story is described as: "dark, adult story of power, abuse and a struggle for identity, set against the backdrop of scientific and occult genius."

Bruce Dickinson will present the album The Mandrake Project LIVE in Bucharest, Romania, at Arenele Romane, June 3d 2024.

tickets here.

#brucedickinson #themandrakeproject

2nd song & video, Blood on the Graves, came out Jan. 24th 2024.

To Be Continued...

Furiosa (2024)


The prequel to Mad Max: Fury Road and the spin-off just got a date and a trailer, that looks amazing. 

George Miller is back at what he does best, after his Three Thousand Years of Longing (2022) being not so longed for. 

I like he's named "Mastermind" in the promotion for the film.  It seems that the budget of Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga was over 200 mill,. $ and it was shot again in Australia, the biggest production there ever. Warner Bros. distribute. Tom Holkenborg scores again. Chris Hemsworth is the baddie, aptly named Dementus, there will be more of Rictus Erectus, Immortan Joe, The Organic Mechanic and the War boy. Let's see what joy can Anya Taylor-Joy (pun intended;) can bring to the character. After all, she was a Witch, a Norse, android Morgan, mutant Magik and on the Menu...the gambit chess series I did not see.

I bet the film will open Out of Competition at next Cannes Film Festival. In Australia it opens May 23 2024, in the US on May 24th. I guess Romania will join the list. 

                                                     Le trailer, out on Dec. 1st -Oh, What a Lovely Day (redux) !!!!