Andrei Rublev

This is a 1966 Russian film directed by Andrei Tarkovsky (he of Solaris and Stalker fame, both excellent films), based loosely on the story of Andrei Lublev, an icon painter in 15th century Russia. It has been called one of the greatest films of all time.

It is a long film at 183 minutes (depending on which version you watch), and is very heavy going. The story follows Andrei and his painter friends as they leave their monastery and find work painting in a cathedral.

The story is told in seven episodes which follow Andrei, or other characters that were part of his story. The story was very religious and had concepts that were too religious for me to follow, or required some back knowledge of Russian history. The sometimes confusing subtitles did not help.

But, the film-making, acting, and sets were all superb, very much like a Kurosawa film. The attack on the old Russian city of Vladimir was quite well done and looked quite dangerous in some scenes. Unfortunately there was some obvious cruelty to a horse in one scene, which I never like to see, especially in a film. The acting was so natural, it seemed as though you were watching a documentary rather than a historical drama.

Fifteenth century Russia was obviously a barbaric place. There was a lot of killing and torture, famine, and general mayhem. But, at the same time, people were trying to live as best they could and make a life between all of the chaos. At least that is what this film showed us.

I am not really sure I would class this as one of my greatest films of all time. Perhaps if I went to film-appreciation school I might learn more about it, and better understand what was going on. But, it was certainly epic stuff, and despite the heavy going was interesting and thought-provoking.

This article explains the film much better than I ever could. Read it, then watch the film.

For me Stalker was a better film, confusing too, but mermerising.

Date watched: July 21st and 22nd
Score: 8/10
Film count 2018: 47

2001: A Space Odyssey

I have seen this at least two times before, but it is one of those films that one must return to every now and then because it is just so darn good, and a real thought provoker. I last watched it in 2008.

It is quite mesmerising from beginning to end, even though it is quite long. The opening scenes involving the apes doing their thing, then going ape-crap over the monolith is superb. The ape suits were very well done, better than those in the original Planet of the Apes.


Behind the scenes photo.

Then there was the spaceship and it’s revolving set, very impressive for a film made 50 years ago. You can read about how it was done here, along with the zero gravity shots.

The highlight of the film though is the last thirty minutes where the astronaut (played by Keir Dullea, now 81), goes on a trippy trip through space and time to a very nicely furnished room, then is reborn as a giant baby in a bubble the size of Earth. What this is all about is purposely not explained in the film, Stanley Kubrick wanted people to come up with their own theories as to what it is all about. The book, by Arthur C. Clark, one of my fave Sci-Fi writers, was a little more clear about this apparently. I have read the book but I forget how the ending went now…must read it again.

I gave this nine out of ten in my last review, however I have decided that a perfect ten is in order this time as I cannot think of any space film that is better than this, there are certainly none anywhere near as majestic.

Date watched: May 29th
Score: 10/10
Film count 2018: 36

A DECADE UNDER THE INFLUENCE

I last watched this back in 2012, but decided to watch it again as it is a very good documentary about movie-making.

It starts off in the late sixties when films were made big and starred The Kirkster amongst others, then moves onto the seventies when new directors started experimenting and made films that were about real people and real life. By the end of the seventies they were making films like Star Wars and Jaws, pure escapism and more uplifting. It was quite a decade really.

There are interviews with people like Francis Ford Coppola, Bruce Dern, Julie Christie, Roger Corman, Sydney Pollack, Peter Bogdanovich, and Dennis Hopper.

I have seen many of the films mentioned, but there are just as many that I have not seen, so I am going to seek some of them out.

A very good watch if you like a bit of film history.

Date watched: February 8th
Score: 9/10
Film count 2018: 11

The Day of the Triffids

I read the book by John Wyndham a very long time ago, but I remember enjoying it thoroughly. So when I saw this film on YouTube I just had to give it a watch.

I actually don’t remember the story well, and as it turns out the film adaption is very different to the book, almost to the point of being a whole new story.

As a film though it was reasonably entertaining and very 1960’s horror. The Triffids were well done although they are quite different to the book version. The acting was fine I suppose, also very 60’s, and one actress had an excellent scream of terror.

The ending was a bit of a cop-out though. Like War of the Worlds a simple way to kill the Triffids was found, they melt when sprayed with seawater (the book does not find a way of killing the Triffids).

I must read the book again actually.

Date watched: November 24th
Score: 7/10
Film count 2017: 128

I Giorni Dell’ira

This is a 1967 spaghetti western starring Lee Van Cleef and an Italian actor by the name of Giuliano Gemma, and is called “Day of Anger” in English (I prefer the Italian title).

It is though, on the whole, a sub-standard spaghetti western as the story is nothing new and is a bit muddled at times. There are a few good scenes here and there, and Lee Van Cleef is always brillo to watch, but it is mostly quite forgettable.

I will have to watch “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” again some day, that is an ace film.

Date watched: November 18th
Score: 4/10
Film count 2017: 127

You Must Be Joking!

This is a 1965 British comedy film starring Terry Thomas, Denholm Elliot, and a few other familiar faces from British comedy.

It was supposed to be a madcap and nutty comedy with all kinds of sillines, but I don’t remember any particularly funny bits, although Terry Thomas is always funny, even when he doesn’t actually say anything funny. I actually watched this over three sessions because I just didn’t feel like watching it in one go.

The story is about some army guys who have to go on a scavenger hunt to test their initiative. They are tasked with getting things like an electric rabbit (greyhound rabbit), the “Spirit of Ecstasy” from a Rolls Royce, and , the Lutine bell from Lloyds of London, among other random things.

The best thing about the film was the acting. All of the actors were doing the best with what they were given, and they are obviously funny people, but the script was just not up to the task methinks.

Well, at least I can say I have seen it if it ever pops up in a conversation some day.

Date watched: November 9th (final third)
Score: 3/10
Film count 2017: 125

A Hard Days Night

I saw this many years ago, but had pretty much forgotten a lot of it, and with my recent Beatlemania I thought I would watch it again.

This is a pretty weird one actually, at least by 2010’s standards. In the 1960’s, when The Goons were the kings of British comedy, the humour in this was probably normal. For today’s youth though this is probably a real head-scratcher. Can you imagine any of today’s boy bands making a film like this (I can’t think of one single boy band to name… is Kayne in a boy band)?

Which makes this a unique and very fun film to watch. The Fab Four while not the best actors are still just plain fun to watch, and as we know they were already funny anyway. With the weird script, sometimes bizarre dialogue, and general chaos it was a hoot. And of course there are several songs throughout. Seeing John, Paul, George, and Ringo at such a young age (Ringo was 23 at the time) was also interesting to see.

Ringo Starr accidentally came with the film title, and the title song was quickly written eight days before filming finished.

The name “The Beatles” is never spoken throughout the entire film, it is only seen written. Phil Collins played a schoolboy watching the Beatles play on TV (he was 13 at the time).

This film is listed in a few top 100 films of all time, and Roger Ebert gave it a four out of four stars. It influenced the Monkees TV series, as well as British spy films for some reason.

Good ol’ Beatles.

Date watched: October 21st
Score: 9/10
Film count 2017: 119