Blu-Ray Review: The Train

Director: John Frankenheimer, Arthur Penn (uncredited)
Screenplay: Franklin Coen, Frank Davis
Based on a book by: Rose Valland
Starring: Burt Lancaster, Paul Scofield, Jeanne Moreau
Country: France/Italy/USA
Running Time: 140 min
Year: 1964
BBFC Certificate: PG


A fairly underrated director, John Frankenheimer has been behind a number of classic movies, such as The Manchurian Candidate, Birdman of Alcatraz and Seven Days in May as well as some thrillers and action movies that are underrated themselves, such as Ronin and 52 Pick-Up. He was one of the few directors to get on with the notoriously difficult Burt Lancaster and the two of them made five largely well received films together. The Train was one of these, although Arthur Penn was the original director before Lancaster (supposedly) fired him.

Frankenheimer promptly changed the film to better suit his sensibilities (or perhaps to better give Lancaster a much needed hit). Whereas Penn’s film was set to be a more thought provoking look at the willingness of the French to risk their lives for art, Frankenheimer dampened the focus on art to instead produce a rip-roaring action film which occasionally stopped for breath to examine the price of war and the sacrifices made. Whether or not this was for the best we will never know, but we’re sure as hell left with a bloody good film.

The Train is based on a true story set in occupied France in 1944, where a German Colonel (Paul Schofield) loads a train full of priceless art from a Parisian museum to send over to Germany. He and everyone else at the time knows that the end of the war is coming and France will soon be handed back to the French, so this is his last chance for the Germans to keep the valuable items for themselves. The museum curator can’t let this happen though so calls on the Resistance to help. A handful of members work at the station housing the train, including station master Labiche (Lancaster), so they’re asked to take this task on. Initially Labiche turns down the job, but circumstances gradually sway him to put his and his fellow soldiers’ lives on the line to keep what belongs to the French in France.

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Trailer: Arabian Nights

Playing at Cannes in three separate 2 hour parts, Miguel Gomes (Tabu) examines contemporary Portugal with dozens of short stories in the structure of the classic Arabian Nights structure. Gorgeously shot, but I’m sure ponderously pace, this is certainly not going to be for everyone, but I also expect if you get the chance to watch all six hours of it together, it will probably be a very rewarding experience.

A film that asks “Where are stories born?” and answers, “They spring from the wishes and fears of man.”

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Mad Men Podcast – The Buchel Review

Throughout the “Game of Thrones” season, The Cinecast devotes a good portion of the show to recapping the latest episode. Surprisingly, it has proven to be one of the more popular segments of the show in the last couple of years. So I wanted to bring listener’s attention to another popular television show podcast that is loosely related to the RowThree media empire: The Buchel Review.

The final episode of the massively popular “Mad Men” is almost upon us and there are loads of resources covering the series and its inevitable conclusion. But we’ve got RowThree family in the mix as occasional/Cinecast/guest, Aaron Hartung, and his pals have been recapping the last few episodes of the final season as they air each week.

If you’re a fan of Mad Men, this is one of the best podcasts you’ll find discussing the show in a “water cooler & cigarettes” format. And as we’ve mentioned before, Aaron certainly has a voice for radio and is very soothing to stick in your ear. Check out The Buchel Review on PodBean and see what you think. Once addicted, definitely subscribe to their feed in your favorite podcast catcher to download the last couple of episodes as they become available.

 

Mondays Suck Less in the Third Row

Check out these links:
Transcript of Lucas, Spielberg and Kasdan brainstorming Indiana Jones concept
25 Horror Short Films We Dare You To Watch Alone Tonight (streaming)
What movie character is more of a scumbag than we realize?
Tarot Cards re-shot into real scenes
Mark Hamill’s personal “Return of the Jedi” photo album
90 Year-old tortoise gets prosthetic wheels after rats eat her legs
“The Professional” (BTS photos)
IndieGoGo campaign to finish Orson Welles’ last film
More amazing historical photos
50 Crazy Stairs from Around the World
Papparazzi-proof clothing



Miyazaki films reimagined as woodblock prints (sold out)

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Blu-Ray Review: Retaliation

Director: Yasuharu Hasebe
Screenplay: Yoshihiro Ishimatsu, Keiji Kubota
Starring: Akira Kobayashi, Jô Shishido, Hideaki Nitani
Country: Japan
Running Time: 94 min
Year: 1968
BBFC Certificate: 18


Hot on the heals of releasing Yasuharu Hasebe’s Massacre Gun on Blu-Ray last month (which I also reviewed), Arrow Video have polished up the director’s follow up, another violent gangster thriller, Retaliation. I enjoyed the previous film a lot, but couldn’t help comparing it to the superior work I’d seen from Seijun Suzuki. This time around is a similar story, although I was comparing it to Massacre Gun more than anything else.

Retaliation sees gang member Jiro (Akira Kobayashi) come out of prison after serving 8 years for killing a member of a rival gang. As soon as he sets foot outside the gates he’s approached by Hino (Jô Shishido), who vows to kill him to avenge the death of his brother (which was the cause of his incarceration). This first attempt is thwarted by his girlfriend, but Hino is still hellbent on carrying out his actions.

When Jiro gets home to his Godfather, he discovers that his once powerful gang has all but disbanded. The Don of another gang, the Hazama family, has been supporting his ageing leader though. The once rival Don offers Jiro a job, to gain control of Takagawa City for his family. In doing so, he would be able to run it as he likes. Seeing this as a way to make his own family name relevant again, Jiro accepts the offer and proceeds to play two rival gangs off against each other. Once rid of them he hopes to go legit and run a construction company in the area. However, as is often the case in these gang warfare films, nothing quite goes to plan and the bodies pile up and loyalties are tested.

In amongst all of this, Hino is forced to side with Jiro by his employers, but he vows to carry through his vengeance once the job is done. The two become closer as things go on though, so what will happen by the end?

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Trailer: Sense8

Not a theatrical release, but possessing all the scope and complexity that was perhaps boiled out of Jupiter Ascending, the Wachowskis are back with a Netflix Original Series, Sense8. Judging from the trailer, it has all the hallmarks of a Wachowski blockbuster, and feels like Cloud Atlas, Lost and The Matrix all boiled into one (sorry Speed Racer fans).

It pleases me immensely that the Siblings keep casting Korean actress Doona Bae, who will be joined by Daryl Hannah, Naveen Andrews, Freema Agyeman and Joey Pants. If the IMDb is to be trusted, it appears that many of the cast will only be in a small sliver (3 episodes) of the show, so I’m not fully expecting the full-on Cloud Atlas simultaneous-cluster-bomb.

The full series, 12 episodes, drops on Netflix on June 5.

Friday One Sheet: A Perfect Day

The temptation, when you have a big name ensemble is to splash their faces on your poster, either through a series of boxes down at the bottom, or floating heads. This is why I like the design of this poster so much, it is almost if the cast of the film, including Benicio Del Toro, Olga Kurylenko, Time Robbins and Mélanie Theirry are staring at you in challenge to watch the film. Well, either that, or you are the dead body they are leaning over. Just by camera angle this poster is immediately provocative.

The story from Dr. Paula Farias’s novel “Dejarse Llover,” was adapted for the screen by director Fernando León de Aranoa and involves a group of aid workers try to resolve a crisis in an armed conflict zone.

For your pleasure, I have also tucked the trailer under the seat.

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The Griswolds? Kinda. (Vacation 2015).

Not at all sure how this is going to work out. Probably not at all. I always thought Rusty was kind of the level-headed, logical one. But he has kids and all of a sudden he’s a dunder-head? Like father, like son I guess.

Very little in this trailer works for me. Again, nostalgia is nostalgia. Bringing it back 30 years after the fact very rarely works out the way we think it might in our heads. Ok ok, that last bit with the Ferrari is kind of funny…