Saturday, December 31, 2016

"JASON BOURNE" (2016) Review

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"JASON BOURNE" (2016) Review

When I first learned that Universal Studios had a fifth movie planned for their BOURNE movie franchise, I was pleased. I figured that this new movie would continue the story where both the 2007 film, "THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM" and 2012's "THE BOURNE LEGACY" left off. 

I suspect that some might be wondering to what I am referring. Let me explain. Both movies hinted, especially "THE BOURNE LEGACY" that C.I.A. Deputy Director Pamela Landy might be facing trouble for assisting Jason Bourne aka David Webb in the 2007. In fact, one of the reasons that Deputy Director Noah Vosen and Director Ezra Cramer had chosen her to help track down Bourne in the 2007 movie in the first place . . . to set her up to take a fall in case their efforts to find and kill Bourne go south. Well, it did go south . . . for them. And in the 2012 movie, Vosen accused Landy of committing treason in order to deflect his legal problems from himself and Cramer. So I figured that this fifth movie would pick up the tale. I even considered the possibility of Bourne and fellow C.I.A. fugitives Aaron Cross from the 2012 movie, working together to help Landry. Well, that did not happen. As it turned out, star Matt Damon and screenwriter/director Tony Gilroy had a falling out over the screenplay for the 2007 movie. Jeremy Renner starred in the 2012 movie and Gilroy did not participate in this new film's production.

So, what was "JASON BOURNE" about? Written by Christopher Rouse and Paul Greengrass, who served as director of this film, the 2007 movie and 2004's "THE BOURNE SUPREMACY"; the movie centered around Jason Bourne's attempts to discover more about his past with the C.I.A. and especially Treadstone. This all began when former Treadstone colleague Nicky Parsons, who has joined a hackvist group, hacks into the CIA's mainframe server in order to expose the CIA's black ops programs. Parsons finds documents that concern Bourne's recruitment into the Treadstone program and his father's role in the program. Both Bourne and Parsons meet at Syntagma Square during a violent anti-government protest in Athens, Greece; where she informs him with this new information. At the same time, Parsons' hack alerts Cyber Ops Division Head Heather Lee and CIA Director Robert Dewey. Dewey sends a black ops team and a former Blackbriar assassin nicknamed "The Asset" to kill Parsons and Bourne. More importantly, Dewey wants to shut down any loose ends regarding the C.I.A.'s black ops programs, including the latest one, "Iron Hand" (a collection of the previous ones - Treadstone, Blackbriar, Outcome and LARX). That means destroying the hackvist group to which Parsons belonged; killing Bourne; Parsons; CEO social media site Deep Dream Aaron Kalloor, with whom he had become estranged; or anyone else who might be a threat. He also wants to use Kalloor's Deep Dream site for real-time mass surveillance of the public.

Eventually I realized that "JASON BOURNE" was not going to continue the narratives of "THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM" and "THE BOURNE LEGACY" and set about enjoying this latest entry in the franchise. And there was a good deal to enjoy about this movie. First of all, "JASON BOURNE" featured some top notch performances. Matt Damon gave a pretty solid performance as an older and more world weary Jason Bourne aka David Webb, who seemed to have resigned himself to an existence of wandering, participating in illegal fight rings and loneliness. Tommy Lee Jones was also excellent as Robert Dewey, the current and ruthless C.I.A. Director who feels threatened not only by outside forces like Bourne, Nicky Parsons, a hackvist group and an angry social media CEO, but especially from the likes of his ambitious colleague, Heather Lee. Julia Stiles returned with another excellent performance as Nicky Parsons, an ex-C.I.A. operative-turned-hackvist. Vincent Cassel gave a very intense performance as former Blackbriar assassin, "The Asset", who harbors a grudge against Bourne, whose exposure of the black ops program led to him being captured and tortured. The movie also featured pretty good performances from Ato Essandoh, Riz Ahmed, Scott Shepherd, Bill Camp, Vinzenz Kiefer and Gregg Henry (who portrayed Bourne's late father in flashbacks). But for me, the most interesting performance came from Alicia Vikander, who portrayed C.I.A. Cyber Ops Division head, Heather Lee. Vikander's Lee was a curious mixture of raging ambition, an introverted personality and a ruthless talent for manipulation.

The movie also featured some excellent action sequences. Yes, I realize that it signaled a return to Paul Greengrass' shaky cam style. But to be honest, different movie industries have been utilizing this style for about a decade. Personally, I wish they would get over it. But despite this, I still enjoyed this movie's action sequences. I found the Athens sequence rather exciting. Greengrass and Rouse upped the scale by allowing it to take place during an anti-government protest . . . at night. Another action sequence that impressed me occurred in London, where Bourne contacted a former Treadstone surveillance operative named Malcolm Smith for information about his father. But if I had to choose my favorite action sequence in Las Vegas, where Bourne attempted to prevent Dewey from getting rid of his increasingly troublesome former ally, CEO Aaron Kallor during a technology convention and Lee. 

Despite these cinematic virtues, I had walked away from "JASON BOURNE" feeling disappointed. What was my main problem? Quite frankly, Paul Greengrass and Christopher Rouse's screenplay. I found it contrived, unoriginal and filled with some questionable plot holes. A closer look at this movie made me realized that it strongly reminded me of the plot for "THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM". In both movies, Bourne found himself drawn into the story by an individual bent upon exposing the C.I.A.'s black ops programs. In this movie, it was former agent Nicky Parsons. In the 2007 film, it was a British journalist. Both ended up murdered within the movie's first thirty-to-forty minutes. That is correct. Poor Nicky shared the same fate as Marie Kreutz - fridged for the sake of the main character. I tolerated it once, but not this time. In both movies, the main villain decides to go after Bourne because he feared the former assassin might expose his current schemes. And once again, this movie exposed another disturbing secret regarding Bourne's past.

Speaking of the latter, this one aspect of the movie's plot really annoyed me. What was the secret in Bourne's past? Apparently his father - a C.I.A. official named Richard Webb - was the true creator of the Treadstone program. When I first heard this, I was . . . well to be honest, I simply did not care. But when I heard that Webb Senior was murdered because he tried to stop his son's recruitment into Treadstone, my apathy transformed into contempt. And when the movie revealed that it was Dewey who had ordered Webb Senior's assassination, I shook my head in disbelief. How was that possible? Were audiences really supposed to believe that Dewey was an official part of the Treadstone program? Since when? To make matters worse, Greengrass and Rouse had marked "The Asset", a former Blackbriar agent, as the one who committed the murder. I found this revelation to be ridiculously contrived and I officially washed my hands of this movie.

Yes, I realize that I found the performances and action sequences something to admire about "JASON BOURNE", thanks to director Paul Greengrass and a cast led by Matt Damon. Many fans had cheered that Damon had resumed as lead in the BOURNE film franchise. Yes, it was nice to see him again. But to be honest, I never had a problem with Jeremy Renner or the actual movie he had starred in - namely "THE BOURNE LEGACY". Hollywood legend Darryl F. Zanuck had once pointed out - the backbone of a good movie is the story. Yet, despite the virtues in "JASON BOURNE", I found its main narrative unoriginal, contrived and questionable. And in the end, the movie eventually disappointed the hell out of me.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

"JERICHO" RETROSPECT: (1.13) "Black Jack"




"JERICHO" RETROSPECT: (1.13) "Black Jack"

This next episode of "JERICHO" began with a topic, which had been the hallmark of the series' earlier episodes - namely another town crisis. In (1.13) "Black Jack", newly elected Mayor Gray Anderson and other town officials become aware that numerous citizens are either suffering or dying from hypothermia, due to low power and gas supply. The town engineer suggests that Jericho should convert to wind power and create new windmills. However, the lacks the parts like a regulating governor for even one mill. One of the newly arrived refugees - Emily Sullivan's fiance, Roger Hammond - reveals that a fairgrounds in southern Nebraska called Black Jack has been the site of a trading post and a place to gather information from around the country. Gray asks for volunteers to go to Black Jack and use the town's salt supply to trade for parts needed for new windmills. In the end, four people go - Jake Green, his father Johnston Green, science teacher Heather Lisinski and young Dale Turner. Johnston volunteers due to curiosity about the world outside Jericho. Heather volunteers because she feels she is the only one who can recognize a regulating governor and Dale volunteers in order to barter new items for the store he had inherited from Gracie Lee.

Upon their arrival at Black Jack, the four travelers discover that the camp is guarded by heavily armed men, who are willing to retaliate violently against anyone who causes trouble. They also discover that other countries throughout the world have been sending supplies to the United States. And thanks to the fairground's bulletin boards, they learn a good deal of information about the outside world, including the fact that the country has been divided into six Federal regions, with many people are trying to stake claims to the presidency. Jake, Heather, Johnston and Dale also meet citizens from the neighboring town of New Bern; Heather's original hometown. The quartet learn that New Bern had an ugly encounter with John Goetz and his band of Ravenwood mercenaries after Jericho had driven off the latter in a previous episode, (1.09) "Crossroads". Heather's New Bern acquaintances prove to be a godsend when Dale endangers them all with an act of theft.

"Black Jack" featured other story arcs. Tension rises in the Hawkins household when Robert Hawkins allows one of the new refugees, his former C.I.A. colleague Sarah Mason, to stay at his home. Darcy Hawkins immediately senses that Robert and Sarah were former lovers. She not only develops an instant dislike toward the other woman, but also begins to suspect that the latter might be a threat to the Hawkins family. Darcy's instinct proves to be accurate. While Robert plots with Sarah to permanently deal with the leader of the conspiracy behind the September bombs - their employer, Sarah schemes with "the old man" to use the Hawkins family to coerce Robert in giving up the bomb in his possession. And finally, Gail Green has a confrontation with Mary Bailey over the latter's affair with Eric Green. Their confrontation leads to Mary's revelation that her own mother cuckolded her father with another man before abandoning the Bailey family. 

I would not regard "Black Jack" as one of my favorite episodes. There is nothing really wrong about it, if I must be brutally honest. For the first time since the series' seventh episode, (1.07) "Long Live the Mayor", Jericho citizens and the series' viewers get an idea of what is going on outside of the town. And judging from Jonathan E. Steinberg and Dan Stolz's screenplay, matters have grown exceedingly grim - not only for Jericho, but also the country. This sense of a growing post-apocalyptic world had been featured in episodes like "Long Live the Mayor" and (1.08) "Rogue River". But the Black Jack Fairgrounds setting and the bulletin boards in this episode, along with Sarah Mason's plot against the Hawkins family and Roger Drummond's recollection of how a light led him to the safety of a refugee camp in Nebraska really drove home how grim the country had become. 

More importantly, the narrative for "Black Jack" served as a starting point for the grimmer plot arcs that played out for the rest of Season One and Season Two. The four Jericho travelers' encounter with citizens from New Bern and the deal created between the two groups served as a major continuation of a story line that began in episodes like "Rogue River" and "Crossroads". This deal consisted of New Bern providing windmills for Jericho in exchange for much needed salt. Also included in the bargain is for Heather to return to her hometown and construct governors for the windmills. Sarah Mason's dealings with Robert and the Hawkins family is another story line that will continue in a major way - probably a lot bigger than the one between Jericho and New Bern. More importantly, an important piece of information on one of Black Jack's bulletin boards - a name, actually - will play a major, major role in the series' future narrative in Season Two and beyond.

Considering how "Black Jack" played a major role in the series' narrative, why is it not a big favorite of mine? I honestly do not know. Perhaps it felt more like a source of information and a narrative device than a story with any real emotional connection to me. One is bound to point out the confrontation between Gail Green and Mary Bailey, Darcy Hawkins' hostility toward her family's new house guest or Roger Hammond's recollection of finding a refugee camp as story arcs with real emotional connection. Perhaps. These story arcs, although rather interesting, simply fail to personally click for me. The screenwriters even added a moment between Jake Green and Heather Lisinski, in which the latter brought up the brief kiss they had shared near the end of "Long Live the Mayor". But considering that I have never really sensed any romantic chemistry between Jake and Heather, I only felt relief when they finally dropped the topic of the kiss.

The performances in "Black Jack" were top notch, as usual. The episode benefited from some excellent performances from Skeet Ulrich, Lennie James, Sprague Grayden, Siena Goines, Ashley Scott, Candace Bailey, Michael Gaston and Dustin Seavey. But for me, the best performances came from Gerald McRaney and Erik Knudsen, who created an interesting mentor/protege chemistry between Johnston Green and Dale Turner; Pamela Reed and Clare Carey, who were fantastic as the two women in Eric Green's life at odds with each other; and April Parker, who was superb conveying Darcy Hawkins' anger at the intrusion of Sarah Mason in the lives of the Hawkins' family.

In the end, "Black Jack" proved to be a very interesting episode. I did not exactly find it emotionally compelling, but I must admit that it conveyed a strong image of the grim world beyond Jericho, following the September attacks. More importantly, it set the stage for uglier turn of events for the rest of Season One and Season Two for "JERICHO".

Monday, December 26, 2016

"SNOWDEN" (2016) Photo Gallery



Below are images from Oliver Stone's new biopic called "SNOWDEN". Based on "The Snowden Files" by Luke Harding and "Time of the Octopus" by Anatoly Kucherena, the movie starred Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Edward Snowden: 


"SNOWDEN" (2016) Review





























































Thursday, December 22, 2016

"BAND OF ANGELS" (1957) Review



"BAND OF ANGELS" (1957) Review

I have been a fan of period dramas for a long time. A very long time. This is only natural, considering that I am also a history buff. One of the topics that I love to explore is the U.S. Civil War. When you combined that topic in a period drama, naturally I am bound to get excited over that particular movie or television production. 

I have seen a good number of television and movie productions about the United States' Antebellum period and the Civil War. One of those productions is "BAND OF ANGEL", an adaptation of Robert Warren Penn's 1955 novel set during the last year of the Antebellum period and the first two years of the Civil War. 

The story begins around 1850. The privileged daughter of a Kentucky plantation owner named Amantha Starr overhears one house slave make insinuations about her background to another slave. Before Amantha (or "Manthy") could learn more details, she discovers that Mr. Starr had the offending slave sold from the family plantation, Starwood. He also enrolls her in a school for privileged girls in Cinncinati. A decade later in 1860, Amantha's father dies. When she returns to Starwood, Amantha discovers that Mr. Starr had been in debt. Worse, she discovers that her mother had been one of his slaves, making her a slave of mixed blood. Amantha and many other Starwood slaves are collected by a slave trader and conveyed by steamboat to New Orleans for the city's slave mart. 

Upon her arrival in New Orleans, Amantha comes dangerously close to be purchased by a coarse and lecherous buyer. However, she is rescued by a Northern-born planter and slave owner named Hamish Bond, and becomes part of his household as his personal mistress. She also becomes acquainted with Bond's other house slaves - his right-hand-man named Rau-Ru, his housekeeper and former mistress Michele and Dollie, who serves as her personal maid. Although Amantha initially resents her role as a slave and Bond's role as her owner, she eventually falls in love with him and he with her. But the outbreak of the Civil War and a long buried secret of Bond's threaten their future.

Many critics and film fans have compared "BAND OF ANGELS" to the 1939 Oscar winner, "GONE WITH THE WIND". Frankly, I never understood the comparison. Aside from the setting - late Antebellum period and the Civil War, along with Clark Gable as the leading man, the two films really have nothing in common. "GONE WITH THE WIND" is a near four-hour epic that romanticized a period in time. Although "BAND OF ANGELS" have its moments of romanticism, its portrayal of the Old South and the Civil War is a bit more complicated . . . ambiguous. Also, I would never compare Scarlett O'Hara with Amantha Starr. Both are daughters of Southern plantation owners. But one is obviously a member of the Southern privileged class, while the other is the illegitimate and mixed race daughter of a planter and his slave mistress. Also, Gable's character in "BAND OF ANGELS" is a Northern-born sea captain, who became a planter; not a semi-disgraced scion of an old Southern family.

Considering the political ambiguity of "BAND OF ANGELS", I suppose I should be more impressed with it. Thanks to Warren's novel, Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts' screenplay and Raoul Walsh's direction; the movie attempted to provide audiences with a darker view of American slavery and racism. For instance, Amantha's journey from Kentucky to Louisiana as a slave proved to be a harrowing one, as she deals with a slave trader with plans to rape her, a traumatic experience at the New Orleans slave mart, Bond's lustful neighbor Charles de Marigny and her attempts to keep her African-American ancestry a secret from a Northern beau later in the film. The film also touches on Rau-ru's point of view in regard to slavery and racism. Despite being educated and treated well by Hamish Bond; Rau-ru, quite rightly, is resentful of being stuck in the role of what he views as a cosseted pet. Rau-ru also experiences the ugly racism of planters like de Marigny and slave catchers; and Northerners like some of the Union officers and troops that occupied New Orleans and Southern Louisiana in the movie's last half hour. I also noticed that the movie did not hesitate to expose the ugliness of the slave trade and the system itself, the racist reveal the fate of a great number of slaves who found themselves being forced by Union forces to continue toiling on the cotton and sugar plantations on behalf of the North.

There are other aspects of the movie that I found admirable. Not all of "BAND OF ANGELS" was shot at the Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank. A good of the movie was shot on location in Louisiana. I have to give credit to cinematographer Lucien Ballard for doing an exceptional job for the film's sharp and vibrant color, even if the film lacked any real memorable or iconic shot. If I must be honest, I can say the same about Max Steiner's score. However, I can admit that Steiner's score blended well with the movie's narrative. Marjorie Best, who had received Oscar nominations for her work in movies like "ADVENTURES OF DON JUAN" and "GIANT", served as the movie's costume designer. I was somewhat impressed by her designs, especially for the male characters, ironically enough. However, I had a problem with her costumes for Yvonne De Carlo. Nearly dress that the Amantha Starr character possessed a low cut neckline that emphasized her cleavage. Even her day dresses. Really?

After reading a few reviews about "BAND OF ANGELS", I noticed that some movie fans and critics were not that impressed by the film's performances. I have mixed feelings about them. Clark Gable seemed to be phoning it in most of the film. But there were a few scenes that made it easy to see why he not only became a star, but earned an Oscar well. This was apparent in two scene in which the Hamish Bond character recalled the enthusiasm and excitement of his past as a sea captain and in another, the "more shameful" aspects of his past. At age 34 or 35, I believe Yvonne De Carlo was too old for the role of Amantha Starr, who was barely into her twenties in the story. Some would say that the role could have benefited being portrayed by a biracial actress and not a white one. Perhaps. But despite the age disparity, I still thought De Carlo gave a very strong performance as the passionate and naive Amantha, who suddenly found her life turned upside down. Ironically, I thought her scenes with Sidney Poitier seemed to generate more chemistry than her ones with Gable. Speaking of Poitier . . . I might as well say it. He gave the best performance in the movie. His Rau-ru bridled with a varying degree of emotions when the scene called for it. And the same time, one could easily see that he was well on his way in becoming the Hollywood icon that Gable already was at the time.

There were other performances in "BAND OF ANGELS", but very few seemed that memorable. The movie featured solid performances from Rex Reason, who portrayed Amantha's Northern-born object of her earlier infatuation Seth Parson; Efrem Zimbalist Jr., who not only portrayed Amantha's later suitor Union officer Lieutenant Ethan Sears, but was already on the road as a television star; Carroll Drake, who portrayed Hamish Bond's introverted and observant housekeeper Michele; Andrea King, who portrayed Amantha's hypocritical former schoolmistress Miss Idell; William Schallert, who had a brief, but memorable role as a bigoted Union Army officer; and Torin Thatcher, who portrayed Bond's fellow sea captain and friend Captain Canavan. Many critics had accused Patric Knowles of bad acting. Frankly, I found his performance as Bond's neighbor and fellow planter Charles de Marigny effectively slimy . . . in a subtle way. Ray Teal was equally effective as the slimy and voracious slave trader Mr. Calloway, who conveyed Amantha to the slave marts of New Orleans. The only performance that hit a sour note from me came from Tommie Moore, who portrayed one of Bond's house maids, the loud and verbose Dollie. Every time she opened her mouth I could not help but wince at her over-the-top and if I may say so, cliched performance as Dollie. I think I could have endured two hours in the company of Prissy and Aunt Pittypat Hamilton from "GONE WITH THE WIND" than five minutes in Dollie's company. I guess I could have blamed the actress herself. But a part of me suspect that the real perputrators were screenwriter 

I wish that was all I had to say about "BAND OF ANGELS". I really do. But . . . despite the movie's portrayal the ugliness of slavery and racism, it ended up undermining its attempt. Quite frankly, I found "BAND OF ANGELS" to be a very patronizing movie - especially in regard to race. And the figure of this patronization is centered around the character of Hamish Bond. Someone once complained that although the movie initially seemed to revovle around Amantha Starr, in the end it was all about Bond. I do not know if I could fully agree with this, but I found it disturbing that the character "growths" of both Amantha and Rau-ru revovled around Bond and their opinion of him. 

One aspect of "BAND OF ANGELS" that I found particularly bizarre was Amantha's opinion of Hamish Bond's connection to slavery. At first, she simply resented him for being her owner. But she eventually fell in love with him and opened herself to being his mistress. Amantha certainly had no problems with that ridiculous scene that featured Bond's field slaves lined up near the river side to welcome him back to his plantation with choral singing. Really? This was probably the most patronizing scene in the movie. Yet, when Amantha discovered that his past as a sea captain involved his participation in the Atlantic slave trade, she reacted with horror and left him. Let me see if I understand this correctly. Once she was in love with Bond, she had no problems with being his slave mistress or his role as a slave owner. Yet, she found his participation in the slave trade to be so awful that she . . . left him? Slave owner or slave trader, Hamish Bond exploited the bodies of black men and women. Why was being a slave trader worse than being a slave owner? Not only do I find this attitude hypocritical, I also noticed that it permeated in a good deal of other old Hollywood films set in the Antebellum era. Even more disturbing is that after becoming romantic with an Union officer named Ethan Sears, Amantha has a brief reunion with her former object of desire, Seth Parsons. He reveals knows about her mother's ancestry and her role as Bond's mistress, and tries to blackmail her into becoming his. In other words, Seth's knowledge of her racial background and her history with Bond leads Amantha to run back into the arms of Bond. And quite frankly, this makes no sense to me. Why would Seth's attempt to blackmail lead Amantha to forgive Bond for his past as a slave trader? The movie never really made this clear.

I found the interactions between Rau-ru and Hamish Bond even more ridiculous and patronizing. Rau-ru is introduced as Bond's major-domo/private secretary, who also happens to be a slave. Despite receiving education from Bond and a high position within the latter's household, Rau-ru not only resents Bond, but despises him. And you know what? I can understand why. I noticed that despite all of these advantages given to Rau-ru, Bond refuses to give him his freedom. Worse, Bond treats Rau-ru as a pet. Think I am joking? I still cannot think of the scene in which Bond's friend, Captain Canavan, visited and demanded that Rau-ru entertain him with a song without any protest from Bond without wincing. This scene was really vomit inducing. What made the situation between Rau-ru and Bond even worse is that the former made an abrupt about face about his former master during the war . . . all because the latter had revealed how he saved Rau-ru's life during a slave raid in Africa and - get this - some bigoted Union Army officer tried to cheat Rau-ru from a reward for capturing Bond. The former sea captain/planter ended up leaving his estate to Rau-ru in a will. How nice . . . but I suspect he did so after Amantha left him. If not, my mistake. And why did Bond failed to give Rau-ru his freedom before the outbreak of war? Instead, Rau-ru was forced to flee to freedom after saving Amantha from being raped by Charles de Marigny. In Robert Warren's novel, Rau-ru eventually killed Bond. Pity this did not happen in the movie.

Overall, I see that my feelings for "BAND OF ANGELS" is mixed. There are some aspects of the movie that I found admirable. I might as well admit it. The movie especially benefited from Lucien Ballard's colorful photography, an interesting first act and an excellent performance by Sidney Poitier. Otherwise, I can honestly say that "BAND OF ANGELS" focused too much on the Hamish Bond character and was a bit too patronizing on the subject of race and slavery for me to truly enjoy it.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Top Ten Favorite Movies Set in the 1930s



Below is my current list of favorite movies set in the 1930s: 


TOP TEN FAVORITE MOVIES SET IN THE 1930s

 

1. "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" (1984) - In this exciting second installment of the Indiana Jones franchise, the intrepid archaeologist is asked by desperate villagers in Northern India to find a mystical stolen stone and rescue their children from a Thuggee cult practicing child slavery. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the movie starred Harrison Ford as Dr. Henry "Indiana" Jones.





2. "The Sting" (1973) - Paul Newman and Robert Redford starred in this excellent Oscar winning movie about a young drifter who teams up with a master of the big con to get revenge against the gangster who had his partner murdered. George Roy Hill directed.





3. "Death on the Nile" (1978) - Peter Ustinov made his first appearance as Hercule Poirot in this superb adaptation of Agatha Christie's 1937 novel about the murder of an Anglo-American heiress during a cruise on the Nile. John Guillermin directed.





4. "Chinatown" (1974) - Roman Polanski directed this outstanding Oscar nominated film about a Los Angeles private detective hired to expose an adulterer, who finds himself caught up in a web of deceit, corruption and murder. Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway starred.





5. "Gosford Park" (2001) - Robert Altman directed this Oscar nominated film about a murder that occurs at shooting party in 1932 England. The all-star cast includes Helen Mirren, Kelly MacDonald, Clive Owen and Maggie Smith.





6. "Evil Under the Sun" (1982) - Once again, Peter Ustinov portrayed Hercule Poirot in this entertaining adaptation of Agatha Christie's 1941 novel about the murder of a stage actress at an exclusive island resort. Guy Hamilton directed.





7. "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" (2000) - Ethan and Joel Coen directed this very entertaining tale about three escaped convicts who search for a hidden treasure, while evading the law in Depression era Mississippi. George Clooney, John Tuturro and Tim Blake Nelson starred.





8. "Murder on the Orient Express" (1974) - Albert Finney starred as Hercule Poirot in this stylish adaptation of Agatha Christie's 1934 novel about the Belgian detective's investigation into the death of a mysterious American aboard the famed Orient Express. Sidney Lumet directed.





9. "Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1981) - Harrison Ford made his first appearance as Dr. "Indiana" Jones in this classic movie, as he races against time to find the iconic Ark of the Covenant that contains the Ten Commandments before the Nazis do in 1936 Egypt. Steven Spielberg directed.





"Seabiscuit" (2003) - Gary Ross directed this excellent adaptation of Laura Hillenbrand's 2001 book about the famed race horse from the late 1930s. Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges, Chris Cooper and Elizabeth Banks starred.





Honorable Mention: "Road to Perdition" (2002) - Tom Hanks, Tyler Hoechlin and Paul Newman starred in this first-rate adaptation of Max Collins' 1998 graphic comic about a Depression era hitman who is forced to hit the road with his older son after the latter witnesses a murder. Sam Mendes directed.

Friday, December 16, 2016

"MOROCCO" (1930) Photo Gallery

Annex - Cooper, Gary (Morocco)_01

Below are images from "MOROCCO", the 1930 adaptation of "Amy Jolly", Benno Vigny's 1927 novel. Directed by Josef von Sternberg, the movie starred Gary Cooper, Marlene Dietrich and Adolphe Menjou: 


"MOROCCO" (1930) Photo Gallery

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