This week on Radio 3’s Morning Brew, I talk to Phil about Pierre Coffin’s new animated prequel, Minions, as well as the Sam Raimi-produced remake of the Steven Spielberg-produced horror flick, Poltergeist. I also give Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s The Young And Prodigious T.S. Spivet a brief mention.
This Sunday (7 June) I will be giving a talk at the Hong Kong Film Archive about one of my all-time favourite films, Steven Spielberg’s Jaws. The film is screening as part of the archive’s celebration of Universal Studios’ centenary, while this year also marks the 40th anniversary of the film’s original release. Come along if you can!
Another classic, screened as part of Toho Cinemas 10am club here in Tokyo, Raiders Of The Lost Ark is much cherished film for many cinema lovers, especially those old enough to have seen the original theatrical release.
While some aspects of the film’s visual style have not aged well and the momentum of the film is held back by a shrill and monotonous performance from Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood there is still so much to enjoy in Harrison Ford’s sensual and gritty performance as Indiana Jones, along with excellent supporting roles from John Rhys-Davies as the Egyptian archaeological digger Sallah, Denholm Elliott as Dr. Marcus Brody, buyer of Jones’ archaeological finds and Alfred Molina in his screen debut as a jungle guide.
And, of course, one has to marvel at John William’s brilliant score, which fills, underpins and adds drama to almost every scene.
Raiders Of The Lost Ark still has so much swagger and matinee-style bravura that it’s easy look past the film’s few limitations. This is solidly entreating cinema that has earned its place in many people’s hearts and deeply influenced the shape of action and adventure films right up to this day.
For Jurassic Park’s twentieth anniversary, the film-makers have seen fit to release this blockbuster in 3D and IMAX versions. While 3D does nothing to enhance the film, largely because the original was so well made and exquisitely shot, seeing this thriller in the giant IMAX format is a pure delight.
It was also great to be reminded of this film’s excellent cast, all of whom are given great lines. Sam Neil and Bob Peck had already established themselves as leads in two of the best dramatic TV series of the 80s (Riley Ace Of Spies and Edge Of Darkness respectively), Laura Dern was fresh off two excellent performances in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet and Wild at Heart, Jeff Goldblum was perhaps the biggest star at the time, though film-goers were also have been very familiar with Wayne Knight from the hit comedy Seinfeld. Although Richard Attenborough was a well known star, Jurassic Park was actually his first feature film since 1979. And of course, we cannot forget a remarkably young looking Samuel L. Jackson.
Despite being heralded as the first true CGI blockbuster, much of what makes Jurassic Park stand out today feels like a reminder of an older era of film-making – a strong cast, great dynamic cinematography, fantastic sounds and a clear, well written story.