Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Niyazi Gül Dörtnala (2015)

Niyazi Gül is a lauded local vet, known both for his charming attitude with animals, and his girm principles. e's alao completely oblivious to an infatuated secretary/maid, and perpetually unable to find the last ingredient to his grandfather's miracle elixir for animals. One day he thinks he's finally found it, and two rival horse racers [gangsters] get wind. Each trying to come out on top, they conspire to either blackmail or threaten Niyazi for his serum...

Niyazi Gül Dörtnala in an enjoyable modern comedy. =

The plot is fairly straightforward, and develops at a good pace. It's got enough going on to be engaging, while also not overflowing with unnecessary subplots or convoluted twaddle. The last act does get a bit weird, when the serum is perfected, but it all works relatively well, and is funny at the least

The movie is very funny, with both = dialogue, physical humour, and more. My favourite being the wine bottle toss (a great example of slapstick, and character!)

characters   Hediye meanwhile is a delight! Both maid, secretary, and lab assistant to the professor, she's also madly in love with him, and tries coming onto him in various ways, with little success. She's amusingly mother-ish, acting beyond her years as like a [nagging] wife. She also has a near-constant litany of hilarious and elaborate insults, from "May your hands stick together! May your ass be boiled in hell's cauldron's!" to "May guinea pigs eat your peppers and tomatoes!", and "May jackals eat your asses!"

My only complaint is that since there's the 3rd act break-up as it were, plus her being kidnapped/held hostage, she gets less screentime and interaction with Niyazi in the last act, and we don't really see them being romantic until the very end. This is all understandable though, and what we do get is great. The ending to the film is [understated] and sweet.

The villains are surprisingly neat! They're over-the-top evil schemers, but both with softer sides. All of the scheming and = that Riza goes through isn't for money, power, fame, or anything, but instead just to win Sultan's hand. It's kinda sweet, in a = way, especially when seeing Sultan's own feelings towards him. They're pretty multi-dimensional, and she unloads to her = in a really effective scene later on. From thoughtful, to silly, dramatic, and fun, there's a lot to enjoy with this duo.

The rest of the cast are  too, from the dopey but friendly store clerks, =, Sultan's [manservant] Suleiman, and more.

Ata Demirer is a good lead, playing the hero well with both straightfaced deliveries and comedy moments. One thing that amused me was a flashback scene to his younger years, and the make-up used actually seems to make him look older than in the present! Oops! Sebnem Bozoklu is great as the fiery maid, and Demet Akbağ and Levent Ülgen are fun villains.

One major surprise to me was seeing Kevork Malikyan's name in the credits! He's a Turkish actor, but worked a lot in English media, namely the superb U.K. sitcom Mind Your Language, where he played the Greek student Max. This was my first time seeing him in another language, and he does a great job! With his face alone he is extremely expressive, and a real highlight of the film. He gets lots to do too, never wasted.

The soundtrack here is your typical Oriental rhythms and tunes, which is a positive. They're always a treat to listen too. I especially dug the lower-key synth track during Niyazi's nighttime freakout. It sounds against type, in a cool way.

Niyazi Gül Dörtnala is a fum time. A bit weird and over-the-top, but in all the right ways for me.

Monday, November 16, 2020

It's a Great Feeling (1949)

In the backlots of Hollywood, temperamental actor Jack Carson is assigned to direct his own starring picture, after everyone else in the industry takes a hard pass. Together with his rival and costar Dennis Morgan, he has to get the picture together or he's out of a salary. Luck comes along with the arrival of smalltown waitress Judy Brown, eager to become a star, and the perfect pawn to further their plans...

It's a Great Feeling is a very funny little gem! Coming early in Doris Day's filmography, it's a big in-joke from Hollywood, set on the Warner Brothers' lot and featuring appearances from just about everybody who was anybody, from directors to stars. The plot reflects Day's own rise to stardom, but with more hijinx, because real life is sadly too boring.

At first I thought the story would be focusing on these two dopes trying to get this picture made with this hopeful new actress, but the crux of the movie is moreso on trying to get her cast. I'm mixed on this. On one hand this is all very funny, but I would've liked to see them actually make Madamoiselle Fifi. Still, their repeated attempts to manipulate the producer are great, driving the poor guy around the bend!

The plot of bringing an innocent smalltown girl into stardom is an old and hoary one, and the movie knows this. While this is still a plot that can definitely work time and time again, it can be annoyingly cliched if done improperly. It's a Great Feeling has a funny spin on it the whole time. I also respected/appreciated that the climax ends up turning the whole idea on its head, and going the reverse. Although I do think the movie overestimates the difficulty of/how difficult it'd be to get someone who looks like Doris Day cast in a movie.

The ending is a little disappointing. It is a hilarious reveal, and a perfect ending, but the movie also just stops, basically, and we never find out how everything ends up. We can infer I guess, but I wanted to know what happened! Did the movie get made? Did she say yes? These and more lingering questions were on my mind as the credits rolled.

The comedy in It's a Great Feeling is often hilarious! The scene with the train conductor is one of the best, and has a jawdropping finish. Some of the jokes do go just a little overboard though, like the very end of the train station scene, or the ending of the screen test, where it goes beyond a simple editing stuff-up and into intentional messing about territory. I also disliked the Cousin Itt speak that warbles during the producer swaying scene. It's a shame, as the scene is otherwise really funny, but almost a little spoiled by the sound effects.

The cameos are pretty fun, though can sometimes verge on the obnoxious, with all the 'Hey, look over here, it's a famous celebrity, ' moments. Although this may not matter if you don't even recognise the people in question. My favourite cameos were those of Joan Crawford and Edward G. Robinson. It's fun to see them as regular people, in amusing subversions of their onscreen personas.

The dialogue is fluffy and amusing, with many one liners or gags. My favourite bit of dialogue was "Even though Mr. Trent had a nervous breakdown and has to go away, and the picture is cancelled, and they foreclosed on your house, I want you both to know I'm not discouraged one bit!"

The cast do great. Dennis Morgan and Jack Carson play fictionalised versions of themselves, and are  conniving and backbiting while also still remaining likeable and friendly. They have great chemistry, and make for a duo almost as fun as Hope and Crosby. Doris Day rounds out the trio superbly, lending an air of innocent fun. She gets to be happy, sad, exasperated, and pissed off. Bill Goodwin is funny as the increasingly neurotic producer, and Claire Carleton is nice, though sorely underused.

The songs here are few and far between, but in a nice way. There's a decent amount of tracks, and while this isn't a full musical, they make for an occasional treat. The performers all do well, The score is very nice too, with good tunes throughout. The funniest is the Fats Waller-esque Big Fat Lie, although it scared me at first when Jack recommends singing it in French! As someone who's seen Doris Day sing in another accent for real, I can tell you I never want to see it again! But thankfully it's funny when it's for laughs, and Carson does the goofy singing for that part.

The direction here is great! There are many stylishly shot scenes, with my favourite being the moonlit night out by the Hollywood Bowl. There's also an amusingly bizarre dream sequence, and fun scene transitions too.

Whether you're into old Hollywood, or are just a fan of Doris Day, It's a Great Feeling is best summarised by its title. Great to watch, and never dull...

Please Don't Eat The Daisies (1960)

I had a reasonably good childhood, in that I saw at least a few Doris Day movies when I was a young'in. I was always eager to catch any classical films I could. One such movie was Please Don't Eat the Daisies, and I had a fun time with it, and yet was unable to finish it, since the movie ran to almost 2 hours, 3 with adbreaks! Some things are beyond a child's patience, even one who loves classic cinema! But for years I've been eager to revisit the film, all the way through this time, and now I've finally got the chance...

Kate and Larry Mackay are a married couple with four misbehaving kids, smack dab in the city centre, trying to earn a living. While happy, there are problems they face, such as rarely seeing each-other due to Larry's demanding job, and =. Things change when he quits his teaching position to become a theatre critic, and despite his protests to the contrary, a change begins to come over Larry, and he develops more of a mean streak. =...

Based on the book of the same name, Please Don't Eat the Daisies is a fun time. It's funny, has a good story to tell, successfully captures the stress and frustration of this couple. You really feel for them, and are invested in their struggles.

Kate and Larry are fine lead characters. They're likeable, but with believable flaws. Kate is nice and supportive, but also isn't assertive enough, not putting her foot down enough with either Larry or the roughshod kids. Larry is nice and caring, but begins to grow colder and snobbier as hs job takes him up in the world. To some it might seem a bit out of character how this guy who swore he'd never change ends up changing so quickly. Although on the other hand this is perhaps a  strength of the film, showing just how easy it can be for even a regular person to fall into such a trap, saying they'll be ok one day, then ignoring their own advice the next.

Kate's mother is nice and reasonable, often acting as a font of wisdom, namely in the reverse psychology laden ending (at least, I hope that's what she was going for!). The kids meanwhile are mercifully a fun presence. They're misbehaving and spoiled, but are never too bad, and never brats. The movie nails a good balance between naughty, but not too much.

Actress Deborah Vaugh seems like the stereotypical homewrecker, but is actually surprisingly nice, not to mention fun. While she may give off looks that say "I want you below me in the bedroom, stud!", she never once actually makes a move on Larry, and the two have cool interactions. I would've liked to see more. I also dug her exchanges with Joe at the end.

Alfred  townspeople  so what we think it's a good enough play to perform

Where Daisies doesn't excel in is the length. Some movies can be 2 hours long, but this isn't one of them. It's never boring or overlong, and I was never wanting to throw myself from a balcony, but it's still too long for a movie with this story. It could have easily lost 20 minutes. I also thought the ending was a little quick, which is something that should never happen with a film this long. I'm also bummed ou that we/Larry never actually get to see the play in action.

I also had a problem with the country move. It's not that I don't like that story, or thought it was a bad idea, but just didn't like the execution as much. This is because the movie builds up this negative critic storyline, only for it to be interrupted by the move, then the move gets interrupted by the critic storyline. In trying to focus on both, it instead can't pay enough attention to either.

This was an interesting role to see Day in. It's nothing too out of the norm, but she gets more of a chance to flex some genuine drama skills, moreso than in her usual domestic comedies. David Niven is great too, both as an affable nice guy, and as a more frayed and grumpy one. This was the angriest I've seen him at times! He and Day share good chemistry, even if I do find the idea of them dating weird. It's not that they're a bad item, but you always imagine Doris Day as young, and David Niven old, and have a hard time = that they were actually in the same age range, more or less.

The rest of the performers all do well, from Janis Paige as the sultry vamp, to Spring Byington as the wise mother/in-law, Richard Haydn as the long-suffering producer friend, Jack Weston as would be playwright Joe, and all the actors playing the kids. And of course it would be remiss of me not to mention the amazing dog!

While the film isn't a musical for the most part, Doris/Day still gets to show off her musical skills, from a cheery stage rehearsal, to a fun recital of Please Don't Eat the Daisies with a group of schoolchildren.

To finish, Please Don't Eat the Daisies is a charming movie, and well worth a watch for fans of Day and Niven, as well as anyone else who's interested...

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Modesty Blaise (1966)

Modesty Blaise was a long running comic strip, one of those three-panel comics in every day's paper. In my youth I'd read the comics page all the time, but never had any idea what was happening in Modesty due to lack of context, until they got to the finales, and suddenly I was greatly enjoying myself. It was the same with Torkan,  They seem like they go on forever, so when they finally culminate, it's really something special. With this positive if fleeting connection with the series, I'm up for watching any movie that comes along, but will they live up to its potential...

Modesty Blaise is a retired thief living in luxury, but every now and then the government needs her services for a special job. This time a unseen enemy is trying to steal a diamond shipment to a friendly Sheikh, and she suspects it to be the work of thought-dead mastermind Gabriel. Together with her partner Willie Garvin, Modesty follows a trail of clues to stop this villain once and for all...

1966's Modesty Blaise is a film loathed since the outset. Just about everyone hated working on it, from the director, to the actors (both for the same reason-they couldn't stand leading lady Monica Vitti), and god knows franchise creator Peter O'Donnell wasn't enthused. It's an incredibly unfaithful adaption, really only Modesty in name only. The grounded tone is gone, along with any sense of realism, and all prior stories are tossed out the window. Instead we have a vapid and bombastic mod extravaganza.

Most Eurospy films were brief affairs, around 80 minutes or so. Modesty Blaise however clocks in at an obnoxious 2 hours! It feels like it could have been easily trimmed by more than half an hour just be removing all the padding, and scenes that linger too long, or totally unnecessary moments. Because of this it takes forever for things to actually happen, and main characters will frequently disappear almost 10 minutes at a time. It's halfway into the movie before it actually fucking starts!

The plot is incredibly muddled and unclear, and by the climax I'd completely forgotten what Gabriel even wanted, or why he was even the bad guy. Half the characters serve no purpose, and often disappear from the movie altogether, like Modesty's old ex. It's really telling as to the film's quality that a routine story about diamond smuggling is this baffling to watch.

The characters here aren't that great. Modesty is an annoying heroine. She's an incompetent lead who sneezes when spying, and clatters around like an elephant in a china shop. Willie fares better. He may be a bit of a casanova, but he cares, despite his roguish exterior, and expresses the most human emotions out of anyone in the cast. He's not immune to the movie's weird flourishes though. Come the time where the main duo trying to lure Gabriel out in the open, they lose any sense of cool and become a couple of dorks. They are completely unendearing.

The villain isn't much better. I appreciate that they tried doing something different with him, given how much of an oddball and a fop he is, but I didn't feel it entirely worked. Maybe just because of the surrounding film. Perhaps he would have been better in another movie. His sidekick is more amusing, being a deliciously psychotic dame.

The comedy here is pretty weak, and rarely made me laugh. Examples of the film's 'riveting' dialogue involve lines like "Why not go back to bed?" "Why not" "Why not" "Why not" "Why not" "Why not" "Why not". Jesus Christ, it's enough to make you wanna get your head examined.

Credit where credit's due, one funny and effective thing about the movie is its portrayal of Islam. In an early scene when the government men are introducing Modesty to the Sheikh, they warn her that women have gotta be careful around Muslims, only for the Sheikh to suddenly jump out from a hiding spot and start playing Cowboys and Indians with her, yelling "Wham bam thank you ma'am!". It's weird, but it was fun and childish in an endearing way, as well as busting myths about Muslims and women. The other moment is at the end, after the Arabs have conquered the villain's island stronghold, and the shifty priest who's been hanging around all movie suddenly converts, praying like a Muslim.

The direction is decent for the most part, stylish in places, and poor in others, with some clumsy fight choreography here and there. The set design and location work is really good in some places. The island stronghold is great, and very lush. It's also nice seeing Venice, and the other European cities on display here.

Modesty Blaise has a lot of other weird touches to it too, like a bizarrely out-of-place musical number, and costumes that go beyond amusingly eccentric and into the realms of downright stupidity. There are also some of the strangest wine glasses I've ever seen! Modesty also seems to have magical powers, changing her hair with a literal snap of the fingers (like when she very briefly dresses like her comic counterpart, proving the filmmakers could have been faithful, they just refused to).

The movie has a very strange relationship to the comic, actively acknowledging the comic's existence in this universe, maybe as a get out of jail free excuse for why this version is so different. Hardly much of an excuse, I still feel like punching them. If they didn't wanna adapt it, they shouldn't have adapted it. When these moments come, they only serve to highlight just how miscast Monica Vitti is for the part.

The acting is a mixed bag, leaning on negative. Monica Vitti is undeniably attractive, but a thoroughly unlikeable lead, more petulant child than glamorous superspy. Her delivery ranges from decent to phonetic, this being her first English role. Terence Stamp has some poor delivery here and there, but it's not really his fault, and he's fine for the most part. He's got humour, and intense steely stares, and I'd say is a good portrayal of his comic counterpart.

Dirk Bogarde is an alright villain, whose exaggerated eccentricity is sometimes amusing, but other times a bit try-hard. The rest of the actors range from fine to crummy, especially the annoying narration. I also got a lot of the female actors mixed up. All these Euro bombshells look the same!

I've read Modesty Blaise be compared to 1967's Casino Royale, another 60s acid trip of a movie, though a connection never really sprang out to me, which is a shame, as I really like that movie, and anything like it. The whole mod pop art style to this movie feels very superficial, whereas Casino Royale was earnestly psychedelic. Modesty Blaise just feels like it's trying to look cool to cash in on a fad, and never truly shines as a real example of what it's trying to be.

The music is another low point. In some parts it's fine, but other tunes are more grating, often yelling the heroine's name over and over again.

Overall, Modesty Blaise is not a fun time. It's dull, boring, confusing, and has a [resentment] for the source material that's clear even to those who've never read it. Definitely one worth avoiding...

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Help! (1965)

The Beatles wowed the world with their music in the 60s, just as they continue to do even today, an they were also one of those [rare] acts that managed to branch over from music to cinema with success! Plenty have managed it, I'm sure, but many more have failed, as singers aren't necessarily actors, or vice versa. But the Beatles struck a hit with their first outing A Hard Day's Night, and followed it up with 1965's Help!...

Jon, Paul, George, and Ringo are just enjoying life as usual,  One day Ringo gets a fan letter containing a strange ring, which he immediately puts on, not realising it's the sacrificial ring of an Eastern cult. Desperate to get their ring back so they can perform the next sacrifice on time, the cult makes repeated attempts to retrieve the ring, before finally deciding Ringo himself will have to be the next sacrifice...

Help is a spectacularly fun movie! Feeling like a time capsule from the 60s, it's just as entertaining as it was back then. A goofy, random movie that never takes itself too seriously. The plot here is simple, which benefits it. With such a chaotic movie where anything and everything can happen, it's heartening to know that the base of the story itself is very easy to follow. No matter how weird and bizarre things get, you always know what's going on.

This is one of those movies where anything can happen. One moment they're skiing in the alps evading flamethrowers, another they're having car chases in the Bahamas, or being shrunk and having adventures on their living room floor.

The Thuggee cult also gets a lot of laughs. It's funny how they treat it like a social group, discussing how to attract the apathetic youth into these old ways, like giving away free tickets to drum up interest in blood sacrifices. Amusing moment include where the Swami Clang ruminates with an inattentive priest, or even speaking directly to the audience.

The dialogue in Help is delightfully demented, with funny jokes, bizarre asides and observations, and the oddest things treated like more most normal in the world. The way the lines are delivered too gives it that extra something.

Help! has a lot of fans, but some detractors too. Though I can understand the critics who found the movie tiresome, as that is a legitimate point that could be made rather than senseless pooh-poohing, I personally disagree. The Beatles themselves had mixed feelings upon the movie's release, not quite understanding it, but they later came to get the film and respect what it set out to so, which is sweet. I'm glad they they eventually realised.

What you can't leave out when discussing Help! is its legacy. The whole time watching this I thought the idea of a 60s boy band living together and fighting bad guys sounded awfully similar to The Monkees, and that's because this movie was a direct inspiration for them!...Wow, the Monkees just get less original the more you hear! (but I joke, Monkees, I still love you). The show was also a precursor to the lunacy of 60s Batman. I also wonder how much it influenced Monty Python! It's got that same spirit of absurdity and irreverence, with a love for the random, and even takes the piss with an intermission in the same way. And now that I think of it, George Harrison was always a bit supporter of the Pythons, so perhaps this was a link!

The music here is naturally great, since we're gifted with the talent of the Beatles. We get a great mix of tunes, and they're sprinkled throughout on an even basis. We never get too many too soon, or too many empty gaps. My favourite songs included Help, You've Got to Hide Your Love Away, and I Need You. Interestingly enough, the musical moments here resemble what music videos would become in the future! You'd have the occasional one as we know it even as far back as the 60s, although it was more common just to see the performers on stage.

A brief look at Richard Lester's CV might give one cause for concern/alarm, given he was responsible for Superman IV (and III, although I actually quite like that movie), but all that can safely be disregarded, as Help! is fantastically directed! From the comedy scenes, to the action setpieces, and the music videos, there's much to enjoy here, and just about every scene has a creative lilt in some way or another. The set design and location work is all great too!

The acting is another highlight. Despite being singers, the Beatles cut pretty competent actors! They have great chemistry and comedic timing, and perform with an amusingly droll tone that they manage to nail, avoiding becoming monotone or dull. The only real hurdle is that because they all dress and style identically, I found it very hard to recognise which Beatle was which. Obviously I recognise John and Paul when close up, but the other two, nope, especially not from afar. There is one amusing scene where they're all in disguise with big fake beards, and I actually recognised them from their older age!

Leo McKern is a funny villain, looking and speaking distinctively. I also love the English Indianisms that he gets in his dialogue, like "Oh my good gosh", and others. Eleanor Bron is a nice female lead, getting lots to do, while Victor Spinetti and Roy Kinnear make for fun mad scientists, with their crazy meets casual attitudes. I also really enjoyed Patrick Cargill's comedy turn as the superintendent. Who would have thought The Prisoner wouldn't have been the weirdest thing on his resume! Overall, everyone here treats the film like a big panto outing, which is the best way. The fact that next to none of these Indians even attempt to look like Indians only adds to the fun am-dram feel.

To finish, Help! is a greatly enjoyable picture! It might not appeal to everyone, but for many it's a delight. Fast, frenetic, funny, and a brisk watch, there's a lot to love...