Showing posts from May, 2023

Battle Royale (1999)

by Koushun Takami The government of a fascist, alternate-history Japan  selects a junior-high school class at random each year and sequesters them on an island with instructions to either kill each other or be killed by the explosive collars around their necks.  This is a good concept that offers plentiful opportunities for action, moral dilemmas, and social commentary.   Unfortunately, Koushun Takami blows these opportunities fairly consistently.   Koushun Takami What remains is overheated prose for lovers of manga.   "Battle Royale" (Italian) At more than 600 pages (!), this novel is far too long for this slim premise.   "Battle Royale" (French) Lots of pages are given over to the philosophical musings and moral anguish of the 42 participants, which makes for a lot of repetition.   "Battle Royale" (Norwegian) It doesn't help that the book often reads as if it were written by a junior-high student, though it's not clear how much responsibility for

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)

Directors: George Miller, George Ogilvie Writers: Terry Hayes & George Miller Stars: Mel Gibson, Tina Turner, Bruce Spence, Adam Cockburn, Frank Thring, Angelo Rossitto, Paul Larsson, Angry Anderson Max (Mel Gibson) becomes entangled in the politics of  Bartertown, a makeshift community in the wilds of the post-apocalyptic Australian desert.  He also encounters a community of children, survivors of an airplane crash.   Before the end of the movie, everyone is involved in a high-speed chase involving planes, trains, and automobiles.   There is much to enjoy in "Thunderdome," particularly in the inventive action sequences, but there is much that doesn't work.   The stunt casting of Tina Turner as Auntie Entity, the ruler of Bartertown, didn't work for me.  She delivers every line as if addressing a concert audience.  The tribe of feral children is also a bit too precious.  However, the fight in the Thunderdome is great, and I was riveted during every chase scene.

A Bridge Too Far (1974)

by Cornelius Ryan Cornelius Ryan presents the story of Operation Market-Garden  with a scholar's attention to detail and a novelist's attention to human drama.   Cornelius Ryan Following D-Day, General Montgomery undertook a daring push to enter Germany and force its surrender.   Paratroopers were dropped in advance to secure important bridges and hold them until ground forces arrived.  Unfortunately, German resistance was far greater than anticipated and the route itself was often too narrow or inadequate in other ways, making the passage of a large armored force impractical.   The result was a debacle and a great waste of human life.  Monuments and memorials are important symbols of our gratitude to the men and women who have sacrificed so much on our behalf.  However, I think books like this are even more valuable.  They bring us as close to standing by their sides as possible for one who wasn't there and deepens our understanding of their gift to us. "The Last Brid

Barfly (1987)

Director: Barbet Schroeder Writer: Charles Bukowski Stars: Mickey Rourke, Faye Dunaway, Alice Krige, Jack Nance, J.C. Quinn, Frank Stallone, Sandy Martin, Roberta Bassin, Gloria LeRoy Henry Chinaski (Mickey Rourke) is a thinly disguised  stand-in for screenwriter Charles Bukowski.  He is a confirmed drunk with no inclination to be anything else; he is so contemptuous of society and most of the human race that he has simply decided to opt out of it altogether and wile away his years drinking and writing.   His convictions are tested when a beautiful young magazine editor (Alice Krige) arrives to purchase one of his stories.   She sees him as a brilliant, primitive talent and attempts to "save" him by offering money, luxury, and herself.  Will he accept what most of us would consider a golden once-in-a-lifetime opportunity or will he return to his world of dives and his equally dissipated girlfriend, Wanda (Faye Dunaway)?   I won't give it away, but if you know Bukowski, th