Based in London; Formerly of New York, Buenos Aires, Fife, and the Western Cape. Saoránach d'Éirinn.
A writer, blogger, historian, and web designer born in New York, educated in Argentina, Scotland, and South Africa, and now based in London. read more

Films Recently Watched

In reverse chronological order, from the most recently viewed backwards.

Ne touchez pas la hache (2007, France) — Based on Balzac’s La Duchesse de Langeais. I think we need more films set in Restoration France, but this one often fell flat.
Män som hatar kvinnor (2009, Sweden) — A journalist has six months to investigate the strange murder of a girl from the island estate of a prominent family. A very good mystery, though I had to fast-forward multiple times due to graphicness. Released in the U.S. as ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’ instead of ‘Men Who Hate Women’.
The Night of the Generals (1967, Great Britain-France) — A quality production depicting the quest of a German officer to obtain justice in arresting a sociopathic general for the murder of a Polish prostitute. Omar Sharif, Peter O’Toole, Philippe Noiret, Christopher Plummer, Charles Gray, and Tom Courtenay.
Three Days of the Condor (1975, U.S.A.) — A literary analyst at a CIA front organisation returns to the office from lunch to find all his colleagues shot dead. Robert Redford and Max von Sydow.
Le combat dans l’île (1962, France) — A right-wing extremist thinks he’s assassinated a prominent left-wing extremist but soon finds not all is as it appears. Romy Schneider plays the woman caught between the would-be murderer and his typographer friend.
À bout de souffle (1960, France) — A rather lame romanticisation of a cop-murderer and his exploits from Jean-Luc Godard. Paris in the 1950s looks great though.
Defence of the Realm (1985, Great Britain) — A newspaper exposes a Member of Parliament as a potential spy, but it turns out the story is much more complicated than first appearances would have it. Starring Gabriel Byrne, Ian Bannen, Greta Scacchi, Denholm Elliott, Bill Paterson, and Robbie Coltrane.
A Few Days in September (2006, France) — An intriguing spy drama set in the days leading up to September 11th, a French spy (Juliette Binoche) is minding the grown children of an old ex-C.I.A. agent (Nick Nolte) pursued by a psychotic assasin (John Torturro).
50 Dead Men Walking (2008, Great Britain-U.S.A.-Canada) — Based on the story of terrorist-turned-informer Martin McGartland, with Ben Kingsley playing his RUC handler.
The Red Baron (2008, Germany) — A very light handling of an interesting historical character man. Everyone dresses well, but Joseph Fiennes as Billy Bishop, the Red Baron’s nemesis, is the least convincing fighter ace in history.
Ondskan (2003, Sweden) — A surprisingly good film in the boarding-school resistance-to-bullies category with a few twists, only slightly tinged by the socialism of the author of the novel on which it’s based.
L’Heure d’été (2008, France) — Three siblings deal with their mother’s estate.
Sink the Bismarck! (1960, Great Britain) — Cracking naval tale. A classic of the World War II genre.
The Count of Monte Cristo (2002, U.S.A.) — Significant changes from the plot of the book besides the usual compression of the story line mar this film. Just not as worthwhile as the lavishly done 1998 French mini-series.
On the Waterfront (1954, U.S.A.) — A priest tries to convince a mob lackey to testify against his bosses to challenge their murderous and abusive control of the waterfront. Particularly intriguing as the director was brave enough to challenge Hollywood communists in the 1950s.
Paris (2008, France) — The interweaving lives of a handful of Parisians. I will see any film that has Juliette Binoche or Mélanie Laurent in it, and this film has both. Also with François Cluzet (of “Ne le dis à personne/Tell No One”) and Albert Dupontel.
Mon Oncle (1958, France) — Jacques Tati’s first colour film, Monsieur Hulot continues to struggle with the postwar infatuation with modern architecture and consumerism. On its release it was condemned for its obviously reactionary world-view, but has since become a cult favourite.
Le Petit Lieutenant (2005, France) — A young police recruit from the provinces joins a Parisian precinct and investigates a murder alongside his female unit commander, a recovering alcoholic.
Les rivières pourpres (2000, France) — Jean Reno plays a police detective sent to a small university town in the Alps to investigate a brutal murder. Meanwhile, another detective (played by Vincent Kassel) looks into the desecration of the grave of a young girl. The plots soon become intertwined in an intriguing fashion. This film failed to live up to its potential (the university aspect could have been developed further) but is still a decent cop flick.
Buongiorno, notte (2003, Italy) — The kidnapping of Aldo Moro by the Red Brigades.
Flammen & Citronen (2008, Denmark) — Another good Scandinavian World-War-II resistance movie, alongside Norway’s “Max Manus” of the same year. (Previously covered here). Mads Mikkelsen (the Bond villain in “Casino Royale”) plays ‘Citronen’.
Kontroll (2003, Hungary) — The ticket collectors of the Budapest Metro worry about a series of mysterious platform deaths. Varies between the comic, the thrilling, and the tiresome.
L’homme du train (2002, France) — A man steps off a train planning to rob a bank, but strikes up a friendship with a retired poetry teacher. Jean Rochefort and Johnny Hallyday are a surprisingly good pairing.
Advise and Consent (1962, U.S.A.) — The Senate must either approve or reject the President’s nomination for Secretary of State, but plots and intrigues are afoot. Otto Preminger does Washington, and does it well.
The International (2009, U.S.A.-Germany-Great Britain) — A cracking conspiracy thriller staring Clive Owen as a stubborn Interpol investigator and Naomi Watts as a Manhattan Assistant D.A. Includes a fun shoot-out in the Guggenheim.
Banlieue 13 (2004, France) — Parkour-heavy action film set in a Parisian crime ghetto of the near-future.
Il divo (2008, Italy) — Biographical film of the seven-time Italian prime minister Giulio Andreotti. Toni Servillo’s portrayal of the main character, however, crosses the line into caricature.
Strajk – Die Heldin von Danzig (2006, Germany-Poland) — A German film in Polish about the hardest-working employee at the Gdansk shipyards who finally takes a stand against the horrendous working conditions under the Communist regime.
This post was published on Monday, July 12th, 2010 7:58 pm. It has been categorised under Cinema and been tagged under , , , , , , , , , .
12 Jul 2010 9:26 pm

If you liked Mon Oncle, are you looking forward to seeing Sylvain Chomet’s The Illusionist, the animated film based on story by Tati? I’ve seen clips online. The animators really caught how Hulot/Tati looked and moved, and the Scottish backgrounds looked amazing!

13 Jul 2010 8:59 am

Andrew –

Thank you for the recommendations.

I have seen several of these. I had forgotten about “Defense of the Realm” and “Advise and Consent,” both of which I saw years ago. “Sink the Bismarck” is always good as is “On the Waterfront.” It has one of the best movie quotes of all time: “I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody. Instead I’m a bum.”

Clive Ownen’s “The International” was rather good, too, much better than “Duplicity,” which came out about the same time.

18 Jul 2010 8:12 am

Thank you for taking the time to post this. I just watched Three Days of the Condor again after many years. Now, off to the Netflix queue to get some of the others you’ve reviewed.

Juan Novillo Astrada
19 Jul 2010 10:49 am

Dear Andrew,
In view of your interest in photography, Britain, films, etc., I think you must like very much “Inspector Morse”, the British mini series with the great John Thaw and Kevin Whately.
In any case, I highly recommend it. The photography is superb and the plots are very good.
All the best, from Argentina,
Juan Novillo Astrada

Andrew Cusack
19 Jul 2010 11:10 am

“Inspector Morse” is my favourite, unquestionably.

Its successor “Lewis” is excellent too, but a little more slanted.

Dave Cooper
20 Jul 2010 5:35 am

Andrew … whenever you are in Amsterdam, you should check out Cultvideotheek on the Amstel by the Blauwbrug near Waterlooplein. They have the best collection in town. (See: ). But also of course the Filmuseum in the Vondelpark (they will be moving to Amsterdam Noor soon, sadly though). And in the States, the best collection on the ground that I ever found was San Francisco’s Le Video ( See: )on 9th Avenue near Lincoln and Golden Gate Park.

Thanks for the list and synopses … a few of these I note I can add to my list to see. Did you the recent Dutch film, OORLOGSWINTER? I thought it much better than ZWARTBOEK (which I thought was just a Dutch movie version of the British comdey TV show ‘ALLO, ‘ALLO? … stupid smiley thingie here).

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