Blu-Ray Review: The Party

Director: Blake Edwards
Screenplay: Blake Edwards, Tom Waldman, Frank Waldman
Starring: Peter Sellers, Claudine Longet, Herb Ellis, Denny Miller, J. Edward McKinley, Steve Franken
Country: USA
Running Time: 99 min
Year: 1968
BBFC Certificate: PG

The Party is a film that has a strange personal relevance to me. I wasn’t sure if I’d seen it fully before watching this screener (although afterwards I felt pretty sure I had), but it’s a film I know best from some catchphrases (particularly “birdy num nums”) that my uncles used to quote with my dad. Due to this, I felt I had to take up the offer of reviewing the film, to better know this title that obviously had a big impact on my family.

The Party takes quite a simple premise and simply lets it play for the duration of its running time. Peter Sellers stars as Hrundi V. Bakshi, an Indian bit-part actor working in Hollywood whose clumsiness ruins a film shoot. The director (Herb Ellis) rings his producer Fred Clutterbuck (J. Edward McKinley) to ask him to make sure Hrundi never works in Hollywood again, but Clutterbuck’s secretary accidentally takes Hrundi’s name as being down to invite to the producer’s exclusive party. The bulk of the film takes place at this party where Hrundi gets into all manner of trouble and social faux pas, helping the gathering degenerate into chaos. During all of this, Hrundi falls for aspiring actress Michèle Monet (Longet), who’s also having a hard time at the party due to her rude and aggressive date.

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Blu-Ray Review: I’m All Right Jack

Director: John Boulting
Screenplay: Frank Harvey, John Boulting, Alan Hackney
Based on a Novel by: Alan Hackney
Starring: Ian Carmichael, Terry-Thomas, Peter Sellers, Richard Attenborough, Dennis Price
Producer: Roy Boulting
Country: UK
Running Time: 105 min
Year: 1959
BBFC Certificate: U

The Boulting Brothers John and Roy worked together as producer and director (often alternating the roles from film to film) to great success in their home country, the UK. 1947’s Brighton Rock may be their most famous film nowadays, but they made a name for themselves in the 50’s and 60’s with a series of satirical comedies. Perhaps the most critically successful of these, winning two BAFTA’s, was 1959’s I’m All Right Jack. Studio Canal have deemed it worthy of a sparkly new Blu-Ray release in the UK so I thought I’d check it out to see what the fuss was about.

Stanley Windrush (Ian Carmichael) is the centrepiece of this satire of working ‘modern’ Britain, which pokes fun at the trade unions in particular. Stanley’s a naïve young chap who’s finished at Oxford and wants to make a name for himself in industry. After failing miserably to secure a job by himself, he’s approached by his uncle Bertie (Dennis Price) and his old friend Sidney (Richard Attenborough). They offer him a low end manual labour position at his uncle’s missile factory so he can go in at the bottom and work his way up. Stanley’s lack of experience and desire to work more efficiently rubs his colleagues up the wrong way though and they report him to their union shop steward Fred Kite (Peter Sellers). Believing him to be a spy sent from the bosses to work out ways of getting them to work harder for the same pay, they try to get rid of him. However, Bertie and Sidney are in fact using Stanley for a secret plan, which falls perfectly in to place when he causes a strike at the factory. When surprise fame falls upon Stanley though, the strike spreads further, even sending Fred’s wife away from her ‘duties’, and chaos threatens to bring down the entire country.

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Movies We Watched

Sometimes we watch stuff that we want to talk just a little bit about, not a full review worth. These are those films. If any of the films reviewed are available on Netflix Instant Watch (US or Canada) or HuluPlus (US only), we’ll note that by putting a direct link below the capsule.

Con Air

1997 USA. Director: Simon West. Starring: Nicolas Cage, John Malkovich, John Cusack, Colm Meaney, Danny Trejo, Ving Rhames, Dave Chappelle, Steve Buscemi.

They just don’t make ’em like they did back in the late 90s. On rewatch, the movie is as goofy as ever but done so completely deliberately; which is something I actually appreciate now, more so than my theatrical experience 15 years ago whereas I just looked at everything as action cheese. It’s as simple as it gets but the outlandish scenarios keep things interesting at every turn. The score is awesome! It’s a unique blend of mechanical sound effects (listen closely whenever Buscemi is on screen), heavy metal and strings. The action and effects still hold up (the Vegas crash scene is terrific!). And of course it’s Nic Cage in proper mode working next to a fucking great, over the top John Malkovich performance. It’s fun and funny. For good ol fashioned, proper action flicks, you could do a lot worse.

The Hunger

1983 USA. Director: Tony Scott. Starring: Catherine Deneuve, Susan Sarandon, David Bowie.

Finally, a Tony Scott film I can actually get behind. OK, I do like True Romance, but it doesn’t quite hit on all it’s cylinders with me – especially towards the end. Though the last 15-20 minutes in this modern day vampire story (well, it was modern day when it was released 25 years ago anyway – those hairstyles certainly couldn’t be mistaken as modern at this point), go slightly astray here as well, there’s a lovely slow build up as Catherine Deneuve marks medical researcher Susan Sarandon as her next companion. A lot is made of the steamy scenes between Deneuve and Sarandon, but they aren’t the focus here (in more ways than one – things are so soft focus you’d swear they were filmed through a feathered pillow). Deneuve plays the countess with a wonderful icy cool exterior that belies the real fire beneath and Sarandon’s big eyes soak all of it in (Bowie is actually very good as her previous companion as his Thin White Duke character slides perfectly into place). The style occasionally threatens to undercut it all, but (short of that last section) it achieves a strange tense balance that had me solidly entranced for most of it.

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