The Great Flamarion

This is a 1945 film noir set in 1936, and is about an ace marksman who entertains with his pinpoint accuracy in shows along with his two assistants.

The story is told in flashback after the moider of a woman in a stage show, and the admission by the mortally-wounded murderer to a performer of why he done it.

Back in time we are introduced to The Great Flamarion and his two assistants, a husband and wife team who The Great Flamarion hired after seeing them in a dance act they did together (they were pretty down and out at the point). Their act basically involved The Great Flamarion (TGF) showing off his skills by shooting stuff on stage such as the strap on the wife’s dress, lots of light bulbs, or a cigarette in the wife’s mouth. It is all choreographed perfectly as TGF is a bit of a stickler, and quite strict. The crowd loves it though, so their act brings in the dough.

The wife though was tired of her husband so schemed to get TGF to accidentally shoot the constantly drunk husband during a show. She does this by pretending to fall in love with TGF who up to this point had been a bit of a grump and not interested in women at all after a woman duped him 15 years prior. She also got a whole lot of dough out of him, them scrammed, promising to meet him three months later after things had cooled down a little after the police investigation into her husband’s death. She of course did not turn up and had instead gone off with another stage performer, a bicycle-trick rider.

The story returns to present day where after searching for months for her, and losing all his money doing so as well as turning to the bottle, he finds her in Mexico. He confronts her and after an argument she gets his sharpshooter and plugs him a couple of times. He manages to strangle her dead then goes up into the light rigging to escape detection. After the police arrive, do their investigating and leave, TGF falls down from his hiding place where he begins his flashback story to the performer in a now empty theatre.

It sounds all rather thrilling, but this is a low budget film with just average acting and few thrills, apart from the sharpshooting. While they couldn’t have actually been using actual slugs during filming, instead using some kind of explosive, it still looked very dodgy for the actors. The wine bottle exploding in the woman’s hand for example looked very risky, she was lucky she didn’t get something in her eye.

TGF was played by Erich von Stroheim, a big name in directing back the day and his 1924 film “Greed” is considered one the greatest films ever made. He lost his directing gig after the film bosses banned him from directing after his films went over budget and due to workers rights violations. He then went on to acting and had great success in France, where he died in 1957.

The other actors in the film were not as well known but did go on to have moderate careers.

At one hour and seventeen minutes it was not too much to sit through. There were no real surprises in the plot and not many thrills, but it was watchable. There one or two nifty camera shots, especially the opening shot. Overall though this is only recommended to those who like to watch old films and don’t expect too much from them.

Date watched: December 7th
Score: 5/10
Film count 2019: 31

The Tunnel

This is a 2011 Australian “found-footage” horror film, and is quite a good one I must say.

The story is about a news reporter, desperate for a good story or else she might get the chop. So after hearing about strange goings-on in Sydney’s abandoned underground tunnels where several homeless people have gone missing under mysterious circumstances, she takes a film crew into the tunnels, without permission from her boss or the tunnel authorities. This, of course, is a recipe for mayhem, carnage, and jump scares (No. 2 and No. 13 are my faves).

Going into it I wasn’t really expecting much to be honest, but it turned out to be quite the scary film, with good tension, eerie shots, and a not very clearly visible beastie which tries to pick them all off one-by-one, as they tend to do. It is nothing original, but the good acting and constant feeling of extreme dread kept it rolling along quite well. I can’t even decide if it outdoes Blair Witch, a film I have not seen for a very long time… I must watch it again. But, I think it might be the perfect downunder version at least.

I can’t really think of any negatives, nothing bad stood out, except for originality, but there is very little of that these days in films.

Interestingly this film was crowd funded. From Wikipedia:

The film was funded using a crowd-funded financing model, as part of the 135k Project, where the film’s writer-producers Enzo Tedeschi and Julian Harvey pre-sold individual digital frames of the film for A$1, to raise the film’s $135,000 target budget.

Not only that but it was released as a download through BitTorent.

Well worth a watch.

Date watched: October 18th
Score: 8.5/10
Film count 2019: 30

Bandcamp Catchup

One of my all-time fave bands is “Dogs”, a British post-punk band that just disappeared from existence in 2011. I was disappointed, but last week after trying to find out what is going on with them I found that the singer and guitarist are now in a band called “Apeman Spaceman”, maybe not the best name for a band. But the music is pretty much the same as Dogs, which suits me just fine.

Unfortunately though they don’t have an album out yet, just a few singles. So I bought their “Spacecatraz” single which I like very much, and over time I will get the others.

The only other Bandcamp purchase was a random one. It is a band called the “Phoenix City All-stars” and the album contains dub versions of The Clash songs.

The Clash and dub go well together, so this is an enjoyable listen. It is nothing new, even the Clash themselves have a few reggae/dub songs, but this is well worth a listen.

Addendum: As I was going through a final check of this post before publishing it I thought why not get another Apeman Spaceman single, so I purchased “Check Me Out”. I had a quick listen and it is as good as one would expect, so I will add it to the music count.

Music count 2019: 27

Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

Every now and then James and I watch a Star Wars film together and tonight we watched this one.

Here is my review from the last time watched this back in 2017:

The last time we watched this was in December 2013, you can read the review for it here. My opinions of the film have not changed much, but I would add that some of the dialogue was diabolical.

It was a big improvement over the previous two episodes though, and had some pretty good action scenes.

Nothing has changed. The dialogue remains diabolical, and there are scenes were dialogue is needed but Georgie instead just left awkward silence.

It is watchable, and there are a few good scenes here and there, but it should have been a whole lot better. Poor Hayden Christensen got a lot of flak for his performance which I suppose is partly justified, but I would also blame the poor script, although all of the actors had to endure that. Hayden though got some of the worst lines.

Looking him up on Wikipedia I found that he is still doing the odd film once or twice a year, but most of them are poorly rated. He made a film along with Bruce Willis in 2017 called First Kill, but that was a major bomb (Bruce has had his day).

Georgie is apparently working on the next Indiana Jones film… don’t Georgie, just don’t.

Episode IX is a few months away, and we are looking forward to that very much. I think the new trilogy has been great so far. It is not perfect, but it is certainly light years better than Georgie’s last trilogy.

Date watched: October 5th
Score: 7/10
Film count 2019: 29

Stealth

For reasons I cannot fathom right now, I decided to watch this film again after having seen it years ago, and well remembering that it was a crappy film. It is still a crappy film.

The story is about three ace pilots who fly a new extremely high-tech fighter. They are all quite annoying, mostly because of the buddy-banter, as well as their extremely white teeth. They are not too pleased when a new even more high-tech fighter joins their little squadron, a plane flown by an AI robot thing. It goes berzerb when hit by lightning and causes all kinds of grief, but by the end of the film comes to it’s senses and tries to make up for killing one of the pilots, and of course sacrifices itself to save the two remaining pilots.

A lot of the story is so improbable that it is just plain funny. My favourite was the high-altitude unmanned blimp which carries tonnes of jet fuel for mid-air refuelling… basic physics be damned. I found a blimp payload calculator online that told me in order to lift 1000 kg of payload you would need 1,000,000 litres of helium, which is a lot. The blimp in the film seemed to be carrying much more than that though. But this film was probably written by teenagers and for teenagers, so science and making sense is a low priority.

What was very annoying though was the camera work. In some flying action sequences the camera seemed to be set on a low shutter speed and the cameraman was just wildly swinging the camera around. On top of that more blur was added in with CGI so that not only could I not figure out what the heck was going on, but I also felt rather queasy and unsure of my spatial existence.

This was a huge bomb back in 2005, making a loss of US$111 million, and also making it one of the worst in history in fact. Despite it’s bombiness though everyone involved in this seems to have continued on as normal in their careers, including the director, Rob Cohen. Perhaps it was the huge successes of his previous films The Fast and the Furious (made US$207 million from it’s US$38 million budget) and xXx that saved him, and his next film after Stealth made a huge bucket in profits too (The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor).

To erase the memory of this film from my consciousness I must watch something to cancel out it’s negative effects, so the first film that comes to mind is Top Gun… Tom’s pearly whites in that film actually make sense.

I did enjoy writing this entry though, so that is something.

Date watched: September 22nd
Score: 2/10
Film count 2019: 28

Far Cry 5

Over the years I have played many different games franchises such as Tomb Raider, Call of Duty, Just Cause, Need For Speed, and a few others. My favourite FPS is Far Cry because you can just run around anywhere, there is plenty to shoot at, the missions are fun, and the worlds are huge. So when Far Cry 5 came out I was looking forward to seeing where the game goes. New games these days though are expensive, so I waited until the price dropped, and luckily I was able to buy it during a special discount weekend on Origin for a very decent price.

I played this a few weeks ago, just after having completed Far Cry 4 for maybe the third or fourth time. So I was looking forward to spending a few weeks getting through it. Unfortunately though it was a shorter game than previous games, and when it came to and end I was disappointed, it seemed a bit short. I am not one for going through and completing all of the side missions, and collecting all of the secrets, so I just blasted through the main story.

Overall it is not as good as Far Cry 4 which is a hoot of a game. Whereas FC4 had a lot of humour mixed in with a dramatic story, FC5 was mostly drama, and at times quite depressing. The main evil dude was a nutjob cult leader, very much like that Waco guy, and he wants to basically end mankind. It is all set somewhere in backwoods U.S.A. which looks great, but is not exotic like the locations in previous games. It didn’t really do anything new either, it was just more of the same in a new location.

Shooting stuff though is still fun, and overall it is a satisfying game to play, but I would still rate this third behind FC4 and FC3.

It will be interesting to see what they do for the next game.

No Escape

Having watched two film-noir flicks recently I though one more would be a good idea, so I found this on YouTube.

The story tells of a woman who thinks she may have moidered someone (by accident), a down-and-out musician who at first tries to extort money out of her, and her boyfriend, who is a cop but obviously a dirty one. Things happen and by the end the woman and the musician fall in love with each other, and the bad cop turns out to be the actual murderer.

Pretty standard stuff, and neither good nor bad. Mostly I enjoy these kinds of film because it is a good look into how life was before computers, smartphones, people saying “awesome” (a word I flatly refuse to actually speak) at everything, and reality TV. Still, you can’t call yourself a film buff if you don’t watch a wide variety of flicks.

At the end of the film the down-and-out musician gets to sing his new song “No Escape”, and it is heard by a film executive who offers to buy the song, thus ending the film with smiles all round. Awesome!

I can’t really recommend it, watch a Humphrey film instead, but at the end after a chuckle at the silliness of it all I was satisfied.

Date watched: September 17th
Score: 5.5/10
Film count 2019: 27