Thursday, November 21, 2002


With Die Another Day nearing release date (Friday, Nov 22), TNN has started off a series of classic Bond re-runs hosted by the reticent Pierce Brosnan and the keener Halle Berry. Caught The Spy Who Loved Me yesterday and realised how little of the film I remembered. It's one of the best (imho) Bond films not based on an Ian Fleming book. Well, yes they used the title, but the film has zero, nil, nada to do with the plot of the book (which is in itself a misfit in that lineup). The sequence where Karl Stromberg sends his secretary to the sharks for treachery foreshadows the extended sequences in Ramesh Sippy's technically-slick (by Indian standards) box-office dud Shaan.

Made a mini haul at AFPL just as a break from the drizzle and the descending dark

* Shickel on Film/Richard Schickel

* Red Harvest/Dashiell Hammett (audio book)

* Dashiell Hammett omnibus/Dashiell Hammett

* Transition/John Coltrane

* Halloween sound effects

* All the Other Things I Really Need To Know I Learned from Watching Star Trek: The Next Generation/Dave Marinaccio: This is a great quick funny read that is accessible even to people with only a marginal awareness of the award-winning cult TV series.

Thanks to TCM, I caught A Fistful of Dollars and For A Few Dollars More. Had to turn in early, which is why I could only catch the opening of the final film in Leone's spaghetti western trilogy with the variously-named Man with No Name (Joe, Monco, Blondie). From such a viewing of the films one after the other, it is clear to see the effects of an increased budget on the vision and ambition of Leone. While the first film can seem stagey at times, Leone is a man who loves to build canvases and set things up for us. Check the openings of each of the three films in chronological order. Of course we must forgive the unfortunate circumstances that films like these were made in: Eastwood spoke in English while the Italian cast stuck to their Italian (wild west indeed!) and the dubbing leaves lot to be desired. The former was based on Kurosawa's Yojimbo, which was an uncredited screen version of Dashiell Hammett's Continental Op novel Red Harvest. Walter Hill's 1996 remake Last Man Standing set the same narrative in a Prohibition era ghost town (Jericho, Texas) with Bruce Willis as the gunslinger caught between the two warring gangs: one Irish and the other Italian (homage?). The second Leone film seems the obvious inspiration for the 1985 Sunny Deol-Anil Kapoor flick Joshilay, whose directorial credit was bestowed on Sibte Hasan Rizvi after Shekhar Kapur (whose career is peppered with half-finished/abandoned projects) left the film midway.

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