Blu-Ray Review: The Fisher King – Criterion Collection

Director: Terry Gilliam
Screenplay: Richard LaGravenese
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Robin Williams, Mercedes Ruehl, Amanda Plummer
Country: USA
Running Time: 137 min
Year: 1991
BBFC Certificate: 15


The Fisher King is a film I thought I’d seen before, but wasn’t sure. After watching it again for this review I found myself remembering several moments, but I’m still not sure I’d seen it from start to finish. Regardless, I’m glad I definitely got through it all last week as I thought it was great.

The Fisher King centres around Jack (Jeff Bridges), a self-centred and cruel ‘shock-jock’ DJ whose career is on a high as he’s set to take the lead role in a TV sitcom. However, when he gives some insensitive advice to a listener, causing the man to gun down several people in a restaurant, his world comes crashing down and he retreats into a depression. One night, when he’s drunk and feeling particularly low, he decides to commit suicide, but before he attempts to do so, a couple of young thugs attack him. He’s saved by a group of homeless people led by Parry (Robin Williams), a particularly unhinged man who thinks he’s a knight on a quest to recover the Holy Grail, which he believes is kept in a ‘castle’ in New York. Jack tries to get away from Parry as quickly as he can at first, but learns that Parry’s wife was shot and killed in front of his eyes, during the massacre caused by Jack’s poor on-air advice. This shocking incident is what caused Parry’s current mental state, so Jack feels responsible and wants to help the man somehow. Initially he tries to solve the problem with money, but Parry doesn’t care about that and it doesn’t make Jack feel any better about the situation either, so he sets about trying to make a better life for Parry in other ways, which in turn he hopes will improve his own mental stability. The primary goal is to set Parry up with the woman he’s fallen in love with from afar, the mousey, socially awkward and clumsy Lydia (Amanda Plummer).

Terry Gilliam is a director who has famously had problems getting films made (or at least released) the way he wants them, or in some cases even made at all. He’d had particularly bad luck with the two films he made prior to The Fisher King, Brazil and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. These were both quite ambitious projects, involving a lot of special effects and elaborate production design, which might explain why The Fisher King was more grounded in reality on a relatively more intimate scale. It seems to have been a relatively smooth production and post-production process for Gilliam too. That’s not to say the film plays against the director’s usual style though. Gilliam visualises Parry’s Arthurian fantasies, most notably the Red Knight, his nemesis. This frightening creation, always on horseback, covered in red flowing material and breathing fire, represents Parry’s inner demons and is used highly effectively, particularly in a key scene towards the end which also features some shocking flashbacks of the restaurant massacre where Parry’s wife was killed.

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Sunday Video Essay: Why Do We Watch Trash?

Vox makes a nice 5 minute inquiry on why we watch and enjoy bad movies so much. Not the intentionally bad animal-weather hybrids (aka Sharknado), but rather the earnestly awful movies like The Room. It also introduces (to me anyway) the notion of ParaCinema, and the far more familiar notion of Camp, and that there is a notion of good ‘bad’ taste.

Stay for the credit stinger, because Bissell is absolutely correct in the best way to watch The Room for the first time, albeit that probably doesn’t apply to many of the readers in these parts, as The Room has been in the popular culture for the better part of a decade at this point in cinephile circles.

Trailer: Bong Joon-Ho’s Okja

To rave reviews (and this trailer is not afraid to splash a lot of them on screen) at Cannes, Bong Joon-Ho’s Okja is currently enjoying a very successful release in South Korea. It will play Netflix world-wide on June 28th. The first teaser, along with Tilda Swinton’s viral-style teaser, was to guarantee mandatory viewing spot for this year. To those who really want to get a look at the ‘super-pig’ at the heart (emphasize on heart) of the story, this trailer offers that in spades. It also features a curiously sweet cover of Nine Inch Nails “Something I Can Never Have,” which I like a lot more than the usual, ‘slow choir cover’ of an angsty pop song. The trailer also features a lot more Paul Dano, but mainly the focus remains on An Seo Hyun and her creature. Fun fact, to those who watch all the credits here, British Author, Jon Ronson (“So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed”) who writes about empathy in an sharp and accessible way, is also the co-writer of the screenplay.

Friday One Sheet: War For The Planet Of The Apes

It is a slow week for posters, large campaigns for Cars 3, Baby Driver, and The Nut Job 2 do the usual thing that character posters do. So I offer you, with out much elaboration, this Banksy street art styled anti-war propaganda poster for the new Planet of the Apes film. It is not a character poster, as there are no others released in this fashion, but it still highlights a key character in the film at the exclusion of all else. I hope to possibly see it framed in a multiplex nearby, but I have my doubts it will exist outside the internet.

It cannot be any further in design than the one below, which also has the vague notion of a character poster. This design eschews the monochrome minimalism, and goes all-in on the use of the colour pink – not a hue typically associated with this franchise, or war in general. It’s a solid piece of ‘flower child’ anti war propaganda coming from a completely different angle, and the poster itself is designed in what I call, the “Korean School” of unadorned single, well framed, photography. The pair of these posters is a really solid example that you do not need a perfectly integrated style across elements or characters for your film, just put out catchy designs, that defy expectations.

Trailer #2 for Katheryn Bigelow’s Detroit

“Change is coming.” is the mantra of this second, ominous trailer for Kathryn Bigelow’s retelling of the 1967 Algiers Motel massacre during Detroit’s 12th Street Riot’s. There is also a period snapshot of the city, including a rather tense collection of police coercion, both in the station house, and in the field. This film looks like a technical and emotional tour-de-force, and remains one of my most anticipated films for 2017.

Trailer: Flatliners

Behold! The sound of scraping the bottom of the barrel. In this, the year of our lord, Two Thousand and Seventeen, Ellen Page will star in a remake of inessential goofball 1990 young actor showcase, Flatliners. Directed by Niels Arden Oplev (Dead Man Down), and catering to an audience of absolutely no-one, the trailer primal-screams, “Maybe you should be watching Final Destination 3.” Words cannot describe how un-interesting this idea is at this point in time. People should be sacked, which is the only reason why I am posting the trailer (above) in the first place. Ellen. Ellen. Ellen. Did you need a new swimming pool that much?

Cinecast Episode 486 – Zooms and Nightmares

Matt Gamble makes a most triumphant return to The Cinecast this week as we tackle the latest in indie horror “spreading” through the multi-plexes. Get your face mask on for It Comes at Night. From the infected forests of North America to the cold, gray bureaucracy of the U.K., Andrew and Kurt go to the depths with last year’s Palme d’Or winner, I, Daniel Blake. Each host this week has three films for their Watch List which rounds out a pretty nice show. We have documentaries, Disney remakes, previous Palme d’Or winners, Netflix original, boxing flicks, romantic comedies, Fosse Fosse Fosse and cannibalism.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!

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Blu-Ray Review: One-Eyed Jacks

Director: Marlon Brando
Screenplay: Guy Trosper, Calder Willingham
Based on a Novel by: Charles Neider
Starring: Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Pina Pellicer, Slim Pickens, Katy Jurado, Ben Johnson, Larry Duran
Country: USA
Running Time: 141 min
Year: 1961
BBFC Certificate: PG


The 1961 western One-Eyed Jacks is a curiosity for numerous reasons. Most notably perhaps is the fact it was the one and only time the great Marlon Brando worked behind the camera as director. This wasn’t always set to be the case though. The production began life as a script written by Sam Peckinpah, based on the 1956 Charles Neider novel, The Authentic Death of Hendry Jones (which Peckinpah would later turn into his own film, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid). Brando’s production company, Pennebaker Productions, got hold of it and Brando wanted the then relatively young Stanley Kubrick to direct it. Kubrick agreed, but insisted on a new script by Calder Willingham. The three of them worked on it at Brando’s home, but various clashes caused Willingham to leave the project (to be replaced by Guy Trosper), followed by Kubrick. With filming already set for a month’s time, Brando stepped in and Paramount agreed. Some believe this was always Brando’s plan, but by all accounts the job was too much for him as the film spiralled rapidly over budget (it reportedly ended up costing $6 million dollars, from an original budget of $1.8 million) and he lost interest during post-production, leaving the studio to edit his 4 hour 42 minute cut down to a more manageable length.

As with a lot of troubled, lengthy and expensive productions, the film was released to mixed reviews and disappointing box office returns. In more recent years though, some critics have called for a reappraisal of the film and last year a new 4K digital restoration was completed by Universal Pictures in partnership with The Film Foundation, in consultation with filmmakers Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg. It’s this polished version that now reaches our homes with Arrow Academy’s new dual format release. Being a western fan, I donned my cowboy hat and took this curious pony for a ride.

One-Eyed Jacks opens with Rio (Brando), Dad Longworth (Karl Malden) and their accomplices robbing a bank in Mexico. Whilst stuck in a hilltop siege with the Mexican law, Rio sends Dad off to get new horses to aid their escape. He instead chooses to run off with the loot, leaving Rio to get caught and rot in a Mexican jail. He escapes 5 years later and seems hell bent on exacting revenge for what happened. Rio finds his chance when he happens upon Bob Amory (Ben Johnson), who is planning a bank job in Monterey, California, where Dad is currently sheriff. Rio joins Bob’s gang and soon comes face to face with Dad, but rather than shoot him down straight away, he plots a slower route of cruel vengeance. Part of this involves or is possibly waylaid by Rio forming a relationship with Dad’s step-daughter Louisa (Pina Pellicer). Further complications ensue as the audience wonders just what Rio plans to do to his former partner in crime.

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Adam West: 1928 – 2017

After a brief bout with Leukemia, the real Batman, Adam West has left this world to fight crime on another plane. “Our dad always saw himself as The Bright Knight and aspired to make a positive impact on his fans’ lives. He was and always will be our hero,” his family said in a statement. Always good-natured and playful at heart, West had a way with his characters and his fans.

Probably most notable as the titular star of the 60s television series Batman, a humorous take on the caped, crime fighter genre; which of course spawned a film version of the same name later that year – which I might argue is still the best feature-length Batman movie to date. Apparently struggling for steady work after that show was cancelled, he did find some amount of recognition and fame as the eccentric and dim-witted (but lovable) mayor, Adam West, in Seth MacFarlane’s “Family Guy.” He also is in a handful of various television episodes and recognizable voice work here and there.

Adam West was 88 years young and he will be missed. The Hollywood Reporter has more…