Murder on the Orient Express (1974; UK; Technicolor; 131m) ∗∗∗  d. Sidney Lumet; w. Paul Dehn; ph. Geoffrey Unsworth; m. Richard Rodney Bennett.  Cast: Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Martin Balsam, Ingrid Bergman, Jacqueline Bisset, Jean Pierre Cassel, Sean Connery, John Gielgud, Wendy Hiller, Anthony Perkins, Vanessa Redgrave, Rachel Roberts, Richard Widmark, Michael York, Colin Blakely, George Coulouris, Denis Quilley, Vernon Dobtcheff, Jeremy Lloyd, John Moffat. In 1935, when his train is stopped by deep snow, detective Hercule Poirot (Finney) is called on to solve a murder that occurred in his car the night before. Strong cast is the main interest in this otherwise standard Agatha Christie mystery, to which the solution becomes very clear too soon. Finney is excellent as Poirot and the script has some lovely humorous touches. Bergman won her third Oscar as a Swedish missionary. Finney, the elegant cinematography and costume design were also nominated for Academy Awards. Twice remade for TV – in 2001 with Alfred Molina as Poirot and again in 2010 as part of ITVs Poirot series with David Suchet. Followed by DEATH ON THE NILE (1978). [PG]

CinemaRetro review of The World of Shaft

The CinemaRetro website has today published a nice review by Tim Greaves of The World of Shaft, which closes “…you’ll certainly depart its pages with the feeling there can’t possibly be anything left to learn – or at least worth knowing – about the legend that is John Shaft.”

Film Review – COOGAN’S BLUFF (1968)

Coogan’s Bluff (1968; USA; Technicolor; 93m) ∗∗∗½  d. Don Siegel; w. Herman Miller, Dean Riesner, Howard Rodman; ph. Bud Thackery; m. Lalo Schifrin.  Cast: Clint Eastwood, Lee J. Cobb, Susan Clark, Don Stroud, Tisha Sterling, Betty Field, Tom Tully, David Doyle, James Edwards, Louis Zorich, Melodie Johnson, Rudy Diaz, Meg Myles, Seymour Cassel, Marjorie Bennett. An Arizona deputy goes to New York City to escort a fugitive back into custody. First collaboration between Eastwood and Siegel is a pointer to things to come with Eastwood’s economic and laconic approach  perfectly complemented by Siegel’s efficient direction. Cobb is excellent as world-weary NYC lieutenant and the script is both punchy and witty. Inspiration for the TV series McCloud starring Dennis Weaver. [15]

Second tranche of Phil Collins re-masters announced

Phil Collins has announced the next two releases in his re-master series with 1982’s Hello, I Must Be Going! joined by 1996’s Dance into the Light. Both again come with re-created covers. The release date is 26 February.


Track lists:

Hello I Must Be Going!

“I Don’t Care Anymore”
“I Cannot Believe It’s True”
“Like China”
“Do You Know, Do You Care?”
“You Can’t Hurry Love”
“It Don’t Matter to Me”
“Thru These Walls”
“Don’t Let Him Steal Your Heart Away”
“The West Side”
“Why Can’t It Wait ‘Til Morning?”

“I Don’t Care Anymore” – Live
“I Cannot Believe It’s True – Live
“Like China” – Live
“You Can’t Hurry Love” – Live
“It Don’t Matter to Me” – Live
“The West Side” – Live Rehearsal
“People Get Ready” – Live
“Thru These Walls” – Live
“It’s Alright” – Live
“Oddball” – Demo of “Do You Know, Do You Care?”
“Don’t Let Him Steal Your Heart Away” – Demo

Dance into the Light

“Dance Into the Light”
“That’s What You Said”
“Just Another Story”
“Love Police”
“Wear My Hat”
“It’s In Your Eyes”
“Oughta Know By Now”
“Take Me Down”
“The Same Moon”
“River So Wide”
“No Matter Who”
“The Times They Are A-Changin’”

“Dance Into the Light” – Live
“Just Another Story” – Live
“Wear My Hat” – Live
“River So Wide” – Live
“Take Me Down” – Live
“Lorenzo” – Demo
“That’s What You Said” – Demo
“Another Time” – B-side
“It’s Over” – B-side
“I Don’t Wanna Go” – B-side

Preview of artwork for Shaft: Imitation of Life #1

Comic Book Resources have put up an exclusive preview of 5 pages of artwork from the upcoming Shaft: Imitation of Life written by David F Walker. The artwork, by Dietrich Smith, seems to depict the conclusion from Ernest Tidyman’s novel Shaft, where Shaft rescues Beatrice Persons from her Mafia kidnappers. The first issue of this second series is due out from Dynamite Entertainment on 3 February.

Film Review – MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (2015)

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015; Australia/USA; Colour; 120m) ∗∗∗  d. George Miller; w. Nick Lathouris, Brendan McCarthy, George Miller; ph. John Seale; m. Junkie XL.  Cast: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Angus Sampson, Zoë Kravitz, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Nathan Jones, Riley Keough, Abbey Lee, Courtney Eaton, Josh Helman, Megan Gale, Melissa Jaffer, Stephen Dunlevy. Mad Max (Hardy) is caught up with a group of people fleeing across the Wasteland in a War Rig driven by the Imperator Furiosa (Theron). Breathtaking action sequences and imaginative design work are key strengths of an otherwise empty chase movie. Theron is impressive, but outside of the muscular action scenes Hardy has little acting to do other than grunt his lines. Miller succumbs to predictable Hollywood conventions in latter stages. Also shot in 3-D. [15]

Film Review – THE TERMINAL (2004)

Terminal, The (2004; USA; Technicolor; 129m) ∗∗∗  d. Steven Spielberg; w. Sacha Gervasi, Jeff Nathanson, Andrew Niccol; ph. Janusz Kaminski; m. John Williams.  Cast: Tom Hanks, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Stanley Tucci, Chi McBride, Diego Luna, Barry Shabaka Henley, Kumar Pallana, Zoe Saldana, Eddie Jones, Michael Nouri. An eastern immigrant finds himself stranded in JFK airport, and must take up temporary residence there. Although based on real events, this feel-good movie has feels manufactured for a mass audience despite some satirical sequences. Hanks is excellent, as usual, as the European refugee, but the scenes with Zeta-Jones and the increasingly clichéd approach to the airport authorities betray the manipulative and predictable nature of Spielberg’s film. [12]

Film Review – TRUE GRIT (1969)

True Grit (1969; USA; Technicolor; 128m) ∗∗∗∗  d. Henry Hathaway; w. Marguerite Roberts; ph. Lucien Ballard; m. Elmer Bernstein.  Cast: John Wayne, Kim Darby, Robert Duvall, Glen Campbell, Strother Martin, Jeremy Slate, Dennis Hopper, Jeff Corey, Donald Woods, Alfred Ryder, Ron Soble, John Fiedler, James Westerfield, John Doucette, Edith Atwater. A drunken, hard-nosed U.S. Marshal and a Texas Ranger help a stubborn young woman track down her father’s murderer in Indian territory. Scenic western with Wayne enjoying himself immensely and Darby also excellent. Superbly photographed and nicely paced, with Duvall impressing as Wayne’s outlaw nemesis. The only film for which Wayne ever won an Oscar. Based on the novel by Charles Portis. Followed by ROOSTER COGBURN (1975) and a TV pilot in 1978. Remade in 2010. [PG]

Book Review – LAST IN THE TIN BATH by David Lloyd (2015)

LAST IN THE TIN BATH by DAVID LLOYD (2015, Simon & Schuster, 306pp) ∗∗∗∗
      Blurb: With his infectious enthusiasm for the game, David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd is one of the most popular cricket commentators around, blending immense knowledge and experience with an eye for the quirky detail and an unending fund of brilliant stories. This new autobiography recalls his childhood in Accrington, Lancashire, when, after a long day playing cricket in the street, he would get his chance to wash himself in his family’s tin bath – but only after his parents and uncle had taken their turn first. From there he moved on to make his debut for Lancashire while still in his teens, eventually earning an England call-up, when he had to face the pace of Lillee and Thomson – with painful and eye-watering consequences. After retiring as a player, he became an umpire and then England coach during the 1990s, before eventually turning to commentary with Sky Sports. Packed with hilarious anecdotes from the golden age of Lancashire cricket, and behind-the-scenes insight into life with England and on the Sky commentary team, Bumble’s book is a joy to read from start to finish.

      I am a huge fan of David Lloyd, who as a commentator for Sky TV delivers his observations with passion, pragmatism and a playful sense of humour. As a player he was a dogged fighter and as a coach he was an innovator ahead of his time. I read his last book, Start the Car: The World According to Bumble, a few years ago and really enjoyed his wry observations on cricket and life in general. This book is billed as an autobiography, but in reality is a mixture of autobiography and opinion never quite fulfilling its billing.

The title of the book comes from his working class upbringing in Accrington, Lancashire, where Friday night was bath night and the youngest member of the family was the last to use the communal water. Lloyd gives some lovely anecdotes from this period of his life and takes us through his cricket career as both player and coach then later as commentator. Lloyd uses the last quarter of the book to give his views on the England team set up and the current state of the game across the world. He sets out his position very persuasively amply demonstrating his no-nonsense and common-sense approach to situations – particularly around cricket politics. But we find out little more about the man outside of the game. This may have been deliberate on Lloyd’s part to keep his family life private and concentrate this book on his life inside cricket and his philosophy on the game. Lloyd is never short of an opinion and he eloquently states his case on the issues surrounding the game today.

Whilst as an autobiography Last in the Tin Bath lacks the depth one might expect, it remains an entertaining and even thought-provoking read for cricket lovers out there.