Monthly Archives: September 2013

#220 Captain Blood

(1935, Michael Curtiz)

“Desperate men, we go to seek a desperate fortune”

YARR! It be International Talk Like A Pirate Day and we be celebratin’ today with a motion picture about the greatest scurvy dogs on the seven seas. We be lookin’ at Captain Blood and decidin’ whether or not he should be walking the plank.

Captain Blood be the name of the main character, a doctor in ol’ England named Peter Blood (Errol Flynn) who gets sent to Port Royal on the word of that land lubber King James. He be sold as a slave to a wench named Arabella Bishop (Olivia de Havilland), and forced to serve her uncle, Colonel Bishop (Lionel Atwill). But he be a fightin’ man, and he escapes with a motley crew and begins a life of piracy. YARRRRR!

When me and me crew first started watching Captain Blood we be disappointed by the lack of piracy. It were a lotta people talkin’ in big words that we uneducated swabs don’t understand. The chattin’ felt like nothing a real man would say, and it was also odd that they be talkin’ to themselves at times. No real pirate would be philosophisin’ when he could be plunderin’.

Also, we pirates love a good tale but this tale be as lost as a ship without a compass. It takes far too long to get to the piracy we came here for and it be more a series of things happenin’ than a simple tale o’ plunderin’. The story could do with being keelhauled.

I almost felt like throwing the movie overboard but me crew kept me focused. And I be pleased I did, for this was a rip-roarin’ piratey romp.

The tale may be a troubled one, but once the crew set sail, there be lots of high seas action that’ll make any pirate proud. Errol Flynn be a fine captain, commanding his ship and his crew with charm and swagger, and proves himself to be a cunning and wily adversary to his foes. He’s the kind of fella you wanna drink some grog and sing shanties with and I won’t hear a bad word about him. He’s a stellar captain.

Captain Blood also be a great source of merriment that can while away the long hours at sea. It produced some good belly laughs, it did, and the battles at sea and the sword fights got me blood racin’ and desperate to get out plunderin’. I weren’t too sure about the sword fight between Blood and fellow pirate Levasseur (Basil Rathbone), because there be points where it looks like they’re just hitting each other’s swords, which I can confirm ain’t no way to kill a man.

I also weren’t too keen on the romantic part of the tale. Aye, Arabella be a fine wench, but no pirate worth his salt would be as attached to a maiden as that. A pirate’s first love be the sea, although they do make a fine couple o’ lovers when they’re seen together.

Captain Blood weren’t the best movie I ever seen, but it be a fine romp which will keep ye merry, and what more could a good pirate need? The movie gets a hearty YARRRRR from me.

Starring Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone & Ross Alexander
Written by Rafael Sabatini (novel) and Casey Robinson
Produced by Harry Joe Brown & Gordon Hollingshead
Music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Cinematography by Ernest Haller & Hal Mohr
Edited by George Amy

Favourite Scene: Once the crew escape and steal the ship, the movie gets a lot more fun.
Scene That Bugged Me: When Blood fights Lavasseur, there are points where Blood will be giving a big speech and Lavasseur would just whack his sword against Blood’s. It looked so silly.

Watch it if: Ye like pirates and want to watch pirates do pirate things. YARRRR!
Avoid it if: You’re a ninja


#219 The Purple Rose Of Cairo

(1985, Woody Allen)

“I just met a wonderful new man. He’s fictional but you can’t have everything”

I have never seen a Woody Allen film before. I know he’s supposed to be one of the greatest comedy directors of all time, but I’ve never been too interested in seeing any of his films. Part of it seems to revolve around the fact he always seems to cast himself in the lead role, usually alongside some attractive female lead. So, as an introduction to his movies, let’s pick one where he is not the lead role. Let’s take a look at The Purple Rose Of Cairo.

The Purple Rose Of Cairo is about a woman named Cecilia (Mia Farrow), living in New Jersey during the Great Depression. She loves the cinema, and often goes there to escape her abusive husband Monk (Danny Aiello). The latest movie on show is a fictional movie also named The Purple Rose Of Cairo, which she grows to love and sees it repeatedly. Then one day, one of the characters in the movie, Tom Baxter (Jeff Daniels), breaks the fourth wall and talks to her, before emerging from the screen and running away with her. With the movie studio trying to bring him back into the film and her husband on the warpath, Cecilia needs to decide what to do about this strange situation.

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#218 A Star Is Born

(1954, George Cukor)

“It won’t happen”
“No, it might happen pretty easily, but the dream isn’t big enough”

I’m not sure if I’ve made this clear before, but I really don’t like musicals. Oh, I have made that clear before? Well, let me say it again. I don’t like musicals. Something about the constant stop and start nature of the genre, where the action and dialogue will stop for a song-and-dance number, actually tends to distract me rather than enthral me. And so we come to A Star Is Born, which not only is a musical, but is also almost three hours long. Hurray!

A Star Is Born is about singer Esther Blodgett (Judy Garland), who has a chance encounter with actor Norman Maine (James Mason) while performing at a function in Hollywood. Maine’s career is in decline, and he turns up to the function drunk, and ends up stumbling onto the stage in the middle of the performance. Esther manages to pull him offstage, and he immediately becomes enamoured with her. Convincing her to leave her band and work in Hollywood as a musical star instead, she begins her climb to stardom as Vicki Lester, while he simultaneously begins his descent into failure.

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#217 There Will Be Blood

(2007, Paul Thomas Anderson)

“If I say I am an oil man you will agree”

The title of this movie warns us that there will be blood. Obviously, this means that There Will Be Blood must be either a horrifically gory horror movie or a Tarantino-style gangster flick. So which one is it? What do you mean it’s neither of those things?

No, it turns out that There Will Be Blood is a period drama about oil drilling. Doesn’t sound thrilling, but you might know this one for its infamous “I drink your milkshake” line. It tells the story of Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis), an oil prospector in the early 20th century, who strikes gold in the form of oil. Over the years this leads him to build up a hugely successful oil business.

He’s then approached by Paul Sunday (Paul Dano), who informs him of a huge oil deposit underneath their ranch. And so, Daniel swoops in and sets up a drill, building up the local community in the process. However, he doesn’t quite see eye to eye with Paul’s twin brother Eli (also Paul Dano), and conflicts emerge.

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#216 Close-Up

(1990, Abbas Kiarostami)

نمای نزدیک
Nema-ye Nazdik

We’ve had a lot of movies from all over the world here on Sven vs. The Movies, and now it’s Iran’s turn to present its cinema to us. This is Close-Up, one of three movies by Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami on the Movies You Must See list.

Close-Up documents the trial of Hossain Sabzian, a man who frequently visited the Ahankhah family pretending to be the director Mohsen Makhmalbaf. Using footage from the actual trial and reconstructions of events using the actual people involved, Close-Up examines why Sabzian did what he did and how guilty he really was of fraud.

Close-Up is an odd movie, one that spends a lot of time in a room watching a man talk. It’s a movie that sums up why “show, don’t tell” is an important rule to follow. It’s a movie with an intriguing concept but fails to execute that concept well. Let’s take a closer look.

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#215 Koyaanisqatsi

(1983, Godfrey Reggio)

Koyaanisqatsi is a weird anomaly of a film. It’s a movie that celebrates cinematography and exists to make film an artistic statement without using pesky things like plot, characters or dialogue. Just pictures and music, the very basic definition of audio-visual entertainment.

That’s right, Koyaanisqatsi has no plot, at least not one that’s obvious. Based on the Hopi word meaning “life out of balance”, Koyaanisqatsi presents us with ninety minutes of moving images and asks us to interpret our own meaning out of it.

So this is an absolute disaster, right? I mean, I often criticise movies for having meandering or unclear plots, so one that openly admits that it lacks one at all must be horrendously unwatchable, surely? Well, I don’t know about that. I was curious to see how this would pan out. It’s experimental and unusual and I had no idea how the concept could be sustained for a feature-length film.

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