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Weekend Films to stalk

FilmCamera.jpgNo matter if you are in the UK or not, or even if you can't see digital television never mind any type of television, there's still some talking to be had here.

This is the list of Filmstalker suggested viewing for the weekend, from digital television and cinema releases. See if you agree, see if any films spark memories for you, and see if there's something you think I should have mentioned.

This weekend there are some classic films, as well as a healthy dose of thrillers. Enjoy.

19:00 - 21:00
: The Thomas Crown Affair
The original version with Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway, oozing sexuality and style, and a very cool beach buggy scene. McQueen and Dunaway are amazing to watch, McQueen in particular.

23:35 - 01:05
: Rambo: First Blood
The first film that started the whole John Rambo craze off some twenty five years ago, and it's only now we're seeing the concluding part being made. This sees Rambo at his rawest, struggling with the pain from Vietnam and a country that abandoned him, what we get are some strong moments and great dialogue from Sylvester Stallone, and not just in the action department. Stallone tells America why Rambo behaves the way he does, and during the film you even sympathise with him and side against the officials. This is a metaphorical film for so much more, it's a shame that the sequels lost some of that and turned to pure action. Look out for a young David Caruso and one of my favourite actors, Brian Dennehy.

23:40 - 03:50
: Once Upon a Time in America
Oh this really is one to record, unless you work odd shifts. The classic film from Sergio Leone that looks at the rise of organised crime in America through the eyes of an old man reminiscing over his young life playing with his friends and how they all become gangsters. The film stars Robert De Niro, James Woods, Elizabeth McGovern, Joe Pesci, Danny Aiello, William Forsythe, as well as a host of other names. A classic, if long, film.

00:35 - 02:05
: O
I've never seen this but I am interested, it's an adaptation of Shakespeare's Othello. Now while Kenneth Branagh is nowhere hear this, it does grab my attention as the film sees the story uprooted to an exclusive American high school where a basketball star goes out with the headmaster's daughter while blissfully unaware of his best friend's jealous heart. Mekhi Phifer, Josh Hartnett, Julia Stiles, Rain Phoenix and Martin Sheen are a few of the names involved, see why I'm interested now?

01:05 - 02:40
: Harlequin
A while ago I was writing about scenes that creep you out, and I remember thinking, if not writing, about this very one. Robert Powell, who can creep people out at the best of times anyway, plays a faith healer who cures an Australian Senator's son of leukaemia. The Senator is extremely happy, as you would be, until he finds that the faith healer wants more than he thought, and has slid his way into his life, threatening to turn it all upside down. There is one scene, perhaps the ending, that I remember particularly well. Powell looks at the camera during a dramatic moment (I can't tell you what for fear of giving the ending away) and his look totally spooked me out. Of course I was young at the time!

13:00 - 15:35
: Hamlet
Here's another Shakespearean tale, and again without the great Kenneth Branagh. This is the version that filmed not far from where I lived for most of my life, Stonehaven in Scotland, at Dunnotar Castle. It's a great film, although I think sometimes it does race on and it has a few rather odd casting decisions, it is an excellent version. This Hamlet stars Mel Gibson as Hamlet, with Glenn Close, Alan Bates, Paul Scofield, Ian Holm, Helena Bonham Carter, and on and on. A great cast for the most part, and Gibson plays a great Hamlet. Still, you can't beat Branagh's version.

13:35 - 15:35
: Casablanca
Oh come now, do I need to tell you anything about this film? This has to be one to watch, really. "Sam, I thought I told you never to play..."

15:50 - 17:30
: The Entertainer
A classic film that I have to say I've never seen, and if I wasn't having friends round Saturday afternoon I might be watching it. Laurence Olivier stars as the egotistical entertainer who really does believe he's a star, and in reality he's nothing of the sort. His life and career are failures and his family is falling apart around him. However he persuades his father to come out of retirement and play one last gig with him, hoping the profits will pay off his debts. Alan Bates, Joan Plowright, Albert Finney and Thora Hird help make up this excellent cast, but what better reason to watch the screen than Olivier?

17:00 - 19:10
: The African Queen
This is undoubtedly Humphrey Bogart's finest cinematic hour as the drunk captain of his boat, The African Queen for which he won his only Oscar. Directed by John Huston and co-starring Katharine Hepburn, this is a wonderful film that tells the story of a disillusioned and pessimistic man who rescues a woman in German East Africa from a German attack, and is persuaded by her to attack a German gunboat as revenge. There are some great scenes where the two play off each other, and Bogart plays it superbly.

17:30 - 19:50
: Ice Station Zebra
Oh I'm a sucker for films like this great spy thriller. Starring classic Hollywood actors too such as Rock Hudson and Ernest Borgnine with Patrick McGoohan giving a good performance when usually he's just playing the same monotone character again and again. Directed by John Sturgess from an Alistair MacLean novel this story tells of an American submarine sent to the North Pole to grab a Russian satellite that is full of intelligence photos of US bases. While on the way there the boat is sabotaged, and they realise that there's a spy onboard the very vessel. Great fun, I was brought up on these films.

20:30 - 22:10
: The Maltese Falcon
Okay, so there's a Humphrey Bogart weekend on I'm guessing. Another John Huston film and this time his directorial debut. This is perhaps the second best known film of Bogart's after Casablanca (see earlier today). It also has an unforgettable performance from Peter Lorre. The film tells the story of the private detective Sam Spade who is investigating the murder of his partner during a case. Soon he's embroiled in a mystery involving a strange statue of a falcon, and he's not sure who he can trust. It's another classic piece of cinema and gives us some great performances. Well worth watching.

21:10 - 23:10
: Pitch Black
I love this introduction to the Riddick character played by Vin Diesel. The grand designs were for a trilogy of films with Riddick, unfortunately though the sequel lost the essence of the character, his loathing, distrust, and lack of empathy or compassion, except when he needed it to survive. This is the better of the two films with the smaller budget, cast and story, it works much better with the continual darkness. It slowly builds to an exciting series of climaxes and delivers some great science fiction entertainment. Diesel and Riddick at their best.

22:50 - 00:50
: The Boys from Brazil
In the 1970's a Nazi hunter tracks down a group of SS officers in Paraguay led by Dr Mengele, they are planning something quite disturbing. When an older, more experienced Nazi hunter finds the younger one has been murdered, he wonders if there's something more sinister going on, something that may see the Nazi's rise again. This is a superbly thought through tale, well before its time, and it stars a cast of old Hollywood with some of my favourite actors of all time. Gregory Peck, Laurence Olivier, James Mason, Denholm Elliott and Steve Guttenberg star in a film which was nominated for three Oscars and has you gripped throughout. My advice is to see this before the remake comes out next year, dropping characters for big effects.

23:25 - 01:00
: The Blair Witch Project
There is only one problem with this film, and thankfully now it has passed. When it was released the hype was insane and the clever gimick that greeted the early audience couldn't be kept up. Imagine walking into that first audience having seen all the shows and footage beforehand, thinking that there might be a chance that this story is real. However when the audiences started going in to watch the film knowning the hype had been engineered, a backlash arose. I suggest sitting down to the film and ignoring all the past history, try and pretend for a moment that you'd seen and read some of the hype before the film and you're wondering if it really could be true, perhaps the footage might just be real, and then watch it again.

22:55 - 00:50
: Infernal Affairs
The first film in the Hong Kong trilogy that gave rise to the equally excellent The Departed. Unfortunately I don't think you can compare these two films anymore, even if they are extremely close in story. They are now two very distinct films and each has a different style and feel to it. However I still think Infernal Affairs is a superb film, and if you had to compare them this one wins on story, while Departed could just take it on acting and style. Infernal Affairs is the story of two moles, one set by the cops in the triads, and the other set by the triads in the cops. Neither knows who the other is, and they must expose the other in order to save themselves. The film stars Tony Leung, Andrew Lau, Anthony Wong and Eric Tsang giving strong performances. An excellent end to the weekend.

Black Snake Moan (15)
This film seems to turn American cinema stereotypes on their heads and I think that's a good thing. Samuel L. Jackson stars as the deeply religious bluesman who finds a young girl, played by Christina Ricci, drugged, beaten and abandoned. He takes her in and decides to chain her up and keep her there until she's cleaned of the drugs and frame of mind that brought her to the place she is. It's also another high profile role for Justin Timberlake, and despite critics I'm thinking that he's going to slowly rise up and make a second career out of this acting malarky. Definitely a film to watch out for some strong performances and great character acting from three unlikely leads.

Zodiac (15)
The hype machine hasn't really needed to do much with this film because it stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr., Brian Cox and Anthony Edwards, as well as a list of other recognisable actors. Not only that but there's the fact that we're seeing David Fincher directing, and it's all based on actual events. In the 1960's and 1970's murders took place that baffled the police, and still have to this day. The murderer taunted them by sending cryptic messages, leaving clues, and yet was never caught. Rather than turn to the killer the film looks into the characters involved in tracking him down, and how they become obsessed with the murders.



I can't wait to see Zodiac, although I have high-hopes for the film the length might be a little too long, or so reviews have said.

I am also looking forward to Black Snake Moan, however it seems another stupid limited release, so the cinema I go to hasn't got it this week... :@

Tell me about it ..Black Snake Moan was on my list for the weekend, but it isn't showing in most places I'd go .. Ah well ...

'O' is pretty good, I'd recommend catching it ..
Right I'm going to hope I have that Film4+1 thing on freeview coz I've already missed half hour of The Thomas Crowns affair it seems :(

Wasnt the Rambo on the BBC in February i think it was? Damm the BBC and their crappy repeats!

After The Thomas Crown Affair I also ended up watching "Secrets & Lies" a British film my Mike Leigh starring Timothy Spall & it was exceptional, I would recommend it.

Yeah Rambo was, but what's worse than the BBC repeats are just seeing films come back on other channels. Once a film has been played on one you can expect to see it appearing in the next few weeks, and so the run continues.

I ended up watching one of my DVDs – A Simple Plan – and I was suitably impressed with the oldest Raimi directed movie I've seen to date. Great acting by Billy Bob Thornton and an impressive story. A solid 8/10.

A Simple Plan is a great film, really enjoyable. Good choice trovster.

From the above list, I have seen and enjoyed the ff:

Rambo:First Blood - My insane teenage crush for Sky begins.

Once Upon a Time in America - Did a Robert Marathon with my family years and years ago and we enjoyed it tremendously.

Casablanca - In my top 20 list of all time favorite films, own the soundtrack too.

The Boys from Brazil - Added this to my queue after reading about it in one of your old posts Richard, can't remember which one.

Now, about the Blair Witch Project, youre right I went to see it all because of the hype.


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