JT Film Review

121 – Brazil (1985)

Brazil REVIEW

4.5/5 stars

Director – Terry Gilliam

Cast – Jonathan Pryce, Kim Greist, Michael Palin, Robert de Niro, Katherine Helmond, Bob Hoskins, Ian Holms, Jim Broadbent

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I had always heard of Brazil as one of Terry Gilliam’s better films and a definite cult movie. I love dystopian sci-fi like Children of Men and 1984, and while I didn’t know Gilliam very well, I recently purchased a box set of his movies and I look forward to exploring even more of this divisive film-makers work. Brazil was, I think, my first Gilliam movie to watch all the way through, and boy was I off to a good start.

Brazil is a dystopian movie, but it has a wonderful dose of charm and quirk that I understand is Gilliam’s trademark. While it is dark and gloomy from a visual standpoint, it clips along at a lovely pace, and has a great set piece or two sprinkled in there as well, interspersed with some wonderful acting from Jonathan Pryce, the ever reliable Ian Holms, and specifically Michael Palin.

We follow Sam Lowry, played by Jonathan Pryce (a great actor who also appears in movies as varied Evita, Tomorrow Never Dies, and the Pirates of the Caribbean series) as he maneuvers his way through life in a dystopian future. He dreams often of a specific girl, and he finally finds her only to realize she may be associated with a terrorist group. The movie mainly concerns itself with Lowry’s journey towards and with this fantasy woman, as he fights the ridiculous, suppressive, and ineffective bureaucracy that turns its citizens into soulless machines.

Having since watched a few of his other movies, I think I have found that Gilliam often has a problem with keeping a story coherent and focused, and frankly there is a bit of that here. However it is not as prominent in, say, The Brothers Grimm or The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. And really there is a lot of charm (damn I’m overusing that word, sorry) in Gilliam’s helter skelter method. It comes across much like your grandfather when he rambles on and on with some story. Except, how cool would it be to have your grandpa talk about dystopian societies with vivid dream sequences and on-the-nose social satire? Brazil cool, that’s how cool.

OVERALL

Brazil is Gilliam at his best. The satire of the movie is great, and the imagination on display greatly rewards repeat viewings. This is the kind of movie that isn’t for everyone, but should be. Highly recommended. Oh! And this movie is where that Wall-E music comes from!

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TRAILER

“Brazil” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

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February 10, 2011 Posted by | 4.5 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Sci-fi, Year - 1980-1989 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Great Non-Bond Movies by Bond Actors

Great Non-Bond Movies by Bond Actors

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Being widely associated with a specific role can be detrimental for any actors career, especially to any man who has uttered the iconic line “Bond, James Bond.” Two actors never lived it down, Roger Moore and George Lazenby, and I couldn’t even find a movie for them on this list of good non-Bond movies by Bond actors. I also told myself that, of course, I would have to stick to movies I have actually seen. Here goes!

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The Original Bond – Sean Connery

1. Murder on the Orient Express (Trailer)

Murder on the Orient Express is a wonderfully stylish and energetic adaptation of the famous Agatha Christie novel. A murder is committed while a train is stuck in a snow drift in Europe, and private detective Hercule Poirot must unravel the mystery. Connery, joining a stellar cast, plays a snooty and very English man, Colonel Arbuthnot. It is a small role, but then again most of the roles in this movie are, and Connery makes a great impact with his limited screen time.

2. A Bridge Too Far (Trailer)

A Bridge Too Far is another all-star cast for Connery (and check out the ‘stache again…), and another soldier role as well. Connery plays Major General Urquhart. This one centers around a disastrous operation during WW II called “Operation Market Garden”, during part of which Allied troops parachuted behind enemy lines. Connery does his steely eyed commander soldier bit here, and certainly holds his own amongst what may be one of the awesome-est casts ever (Michael Caine, Anthony Hopkins, Dirk Bogarde, Ryan O’Neal, Gene Hackman, James Caan, Edward Fox, Sean Connery, Laurence Olivier, Robert Redford, Elliot Gould, and Maximilian Schell.) Some have criticised the movie for being over-long, and while you certainly need a bit of patience, A Bridge Too Far is one of my favorite war movies, if not my top favorite.

3. Time Bandits (Trailer)

Time Bandits is a Terry Gilliam movie about six dwarfs who are accidentally accompanied by a young boy on their time travelling adventures. It is about the spirit of imagination, and despite having the usual Gilliam problems, it is a spirited and fun little adventure movie. The movie is pretty episodic, and Connery appears in one of the segments as King Agamemnon, and then in a final scene as a firefighter. The two are hinted to be the same person. He brings a nice weight to the role, and the movie in general.

4. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Trailer)

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is the last Indiana Jones movie (shut up! shut up!), and having Connery along as Indiana Jones’ father was a stroke of genius. He perfectly contrasted his son’s wild ways, lampooned his past Bond status, and all the while had perfect chemistry with Harrison Ford. This is my favorite Indiana Jones movie, and is one of the rare “three-quels” that was worthy of the franchise’s name.

5. The Hunt for Red October (Trailer)

The Hunt for Red October stars Alec Baldwin as spy (?) Jack Ryan (the first of the multi-star franchise) and Connery as a Russian sub commander who plans on defecting to the United States. This is probably my favorite movie of Connery’s (including his Bond movies), and is the last of action director John McTiernan’s trifecta of great movies (preceded by Predator and Die Hard). It is really a tense thriller rather than an action movie, but it has its action elements as well. Although I think I’m in the minority when I say I didn’t find Connery’s “Scot-Russian” accent distracting…

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The Under-Rated Bond – Timothy Dalton

1. Hot Fuzz (Trailer)

Hot Fuzz is a hilarious cop-movie spoof starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, along similar lines as their Shaun of the Dead was a parody of zombie movies. Story-wise, Pegg stars as a London cop who is moved to a rural area for essentially being too good at his job. Dalton is a local supermarket owner who falls under suspicion of committing a string of local murders. Nobody plays sinister and charming like Dalton, and he plays this role to the hilt.

2. Toy Story 3 (Trailer)

The Toy Story franchise continues with this funny and touching movie. I’ve always thought of the Toy Story series as a bit over-rated, but there is no denying that they certainly are quality entertainment. Dalton plays a theatrical hedgehog with slight delusions of grandeur, and makes fair use of his allotted screen time.

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The One Who Revived Bond – Pierce Brosnan

1. The Tailor of Panama (Trailer)

The Tailor of Panama is really Geoffrey Rush’s show, but Brosnan co-stars as a British spy who convinces Rush’s tailor character to work with him. The movie is great looking but perhaps doesn’t quite reach its full potential. It still has its own charm however, and certainly is enjoyable. Brosnan isn’t really removing himself from the Bond character here though, as he plays a British spy who seduces beautiful women. He is good at it though…

2. Married Life (Trailer)

Married Life is a light little movie about infidelity and the consequences, or lack, thereof. Chris Cooper is the lead, and Brosnan appears as his friend. Cooper and Brosnan compete for a certain ladies affections, and Cooper even decides to kill his wife to get her out of the way. Married Life takes place in the 1940’s, and Brosnan makes a great “classy gentleman” of that era.

3. The Ghost Writer (Trailer)

Polanski’s The Ghost Writer has been unfairly overlooked over the last year or so. It is an unusually tight and competent political thriller, that, while it may lag towards the latter half, has an excellent ending. Ewan McGregor stars as a ghost writer who is assigned to work with a disgraced former Prime Minister, played by Pierce Brosnan. This is the best work I’ve ever seen by Brosnan. He is cold-hearted, has a chip on his shoulder, and yet is strangely understandable. It is a wonderful performance.

The Reboot Bond – Daniel Craig

1. Road to Perdition (Trailer)

Daniel Craig has a supporting role in Road to Perdition as the spoiled and violently jealous son of Paul Newman’s gangster. His role is small but important, as he sets off the story by gunning down a rival accidentally in front of Tom Hanks young son. The role is brutal and cruel, and Craig shows a bit of the dark side he would later do with Bond.

2. Layer Cake (Trailer)

Layer Cake was originally intended to be a Guy Ritchie movie, but was instead directed by Ritchie’s oft-times producer, Matthew Vaughn, who has since gone on to make a name for himself as a director. You can certainly see why Ritchie would have been attached, as the story of Layer Cake has much in common with Snatch, etc. Vaughn however shot it in a style polar opposite to Ritchie, and the result is quite good. Craig stars as a cocaine distributor who is trying to maneuver his way out of the crime world. There is a rich supporting cast, but Craig stands out in the role that first brought him notice.

3. Munich (Trailer)

Daniel Craig has a supporting role in Steven Spielberg’s Munich as Steve, a driver for Eric Bana’s team of assassins who attempt to avenge the terrorist killings of Jewish athletes during the 1972 Olympic games. The movie is much darker than most Spielberg movies, and despite the fact that it drags a little, the movie is largely effective. Craig and the rest of the talented supporting cast add great weight and welcome colour to the movie.

Upcoming…

Daniel Craig also has his name involved with a couple upcoming projects, namely Favreau’s Cowboys & Aliens (Trailer) and Fincher’s remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Trailer). I look forward to seeing what I hope will be a long and varied career in the same vein as Sean Connery. Here’s hoping!

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Thought? Comments? Any films you’d add? Feel free to comment!

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February 8, 2011 Posted by | List | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments