The cinema of my dreams – Was it just another surveillance job – Episode 3

I’ve had time to think about the next part of this opening sequence.

Long plane rides that leave in the dead of night are always conducive to working through plotlines because being on a plane in economy, the chances of getting any sleep is nigh on impossible.

And yet, this time the impossible is possible, which means that sleeping has overtaken the thinking process, and it will have to wait till I’ve woken up.

Of course, as usual, being in this interesting situation has provided another tangent, which is doing the impossible.  It reminds me of a saying I once heard, ‘if you want the impossible it will take some time if want a miracle, that will take a little longer’.  Temper that with ‘how long is a piece of string?’

When we last visited our intrepid wannabe hero, we were left with a cryptic ‘is anyone ever in the wrong place at the wrong time?’

Sometimes, but not for our particular hero.

 

It could be worse, I told myself, while the paramedic cleaned up my cuts and abrasions and gave me a concussion test, which, I suspect, might not quite discover if I was or not.  But, at that moment, it didn’t matter.

I’d lost the person I’d been assigned to keep under surveillance.

It was meant to be a doddle, but of course, no one could ever predict what the conditions might be in any exercise, and whilst I was one part of a team effort, it had been on my watch, and I only realized what it was that I’d been doing when a voice in my ear started asking for an update, because it was coming up to the changeover.

I was surprised the noise of the explosion hadn’t been transmitted to the others.  I waited till the paramedic had finished, a minute at most.

“I got caught up in an explosion, a couple of over-enthusiastic bank robbers, and taken down.  The target was ahead of me.”  I gave the team leader the exact location of where I’d last seen the target, then waited.

If the team was functioning properly, one of the other three should have been close enough to predict where the target would be at the change over point.

“Are you alright?”  It was a question I’d expected earlier.

“Got caught in the aftershock, got a few cut and abrasions, and a ringing in my ears, but otherwise ok.  The paramedics want me to go to the hospital to be checked over, mainly for a concussion, but I’m ok to resume if you want.”

A minute, two, of silence, then, “Do as they say.  We have the target still under surveillance.”

And that was it, what I regarded as a massive fail, despite the circumstances.

I watched the paramedics load the battered policeman onto a gurney and head towards the ambulance.  I went over to the cuffs and picked them up.  A souvenir of the event, if nothing else.

Lights flashing and siren wailing it left, heading for the hospital.

I took a last look at the scene and started walking away in the direction I was originally heading, and once past the perimeter, walked through the group of bystanders who’d gathered to watch the event unfold.  On the other side, I stopped, took another look back at the scene, and did the proverbial double take.

Standing not ten yards from me was the target.

And a quick look in every direction for the members of the surveillance team showed none of them was anywhere near the target.

I spoke quietly into the communication device.

“Target, I repeat, the target is in sight.  Is anyone nearby by?”

Silence.

 

So we now have a dilemma, if there is no answer from the team, are they maintaining radio silence, or is something more sinister afoot?

 

©  Charles Heath 2019

The lost city – a review

For a long time, I had a number of favorite actresses whose films I would never miss.

Meg Ryan
Sandra Bullock
Julia Stiles
Jeri Ryan

With Covid restricting everything movie-related, it has been a long, long time since anyone had been in a movie.

Meg Ryan by all accounts has disappeared, and after Riviera, I’ve patiently been waiting for the next Julia Stiles project. This is coming in June this year. Jeri Ryan has returned to star in Star Trek Picard, which has been keeping me entertained.

But with the possibility of seeing Sandra Bullock in TV series very remote, it’s been a long wait for the next feature, and after a few earlier release dates that didn’t happen, it finally made it.

And filled with enthusiasm, driven by the promo I was hoping for great things.

OK, the first few minutes are not exactly attention-grabbing, unless you’re attracted to wig-wearing book cover models acting strangely, or expect a middle-aged woman would want to wear a pink glittery jumpsuit to a serious interview.

Unless there was a reason, and I missed it.

However, that puzzlement is over once we’re introduced to the nice bad guy, a brilliantly played by Daniel Radcliffe, who certainly is no longer Harry Potter, and thank God for that.

From that point on, while definitely forgetting about pink jumpsuits or stereotyping book cover models, we join the ride.

There are a few leaps of faith, like her being almost an archaeologist in her own right, something not made very clear, but it’s forgivable because you need to have a few unexpected things coming out of left field to keep you on the edge of your seat.

I won’t say the end was like those that other famous or infamous archeologists conjured up being surrounded by Nazis and other assorted bad guys, but seeing the nice but evil Radcliff being dragged away was good enough.

As for the inevitable treasure that is expected to be found, well, there is a treasure, but what it is will surprise you.

The lost city – a review

For a long time, I had a number of favorite actresses whose films I would never miss.

Meg Ryan
Sandra Bullock
Julia Stiles
Jeri Ryan

With Covid restricting everything movie-related, it has been a long, long time since anyone had been in a movie.

Meg Ryan by all accounts has disappeared, and after Riviera, I’ve patiently been waiting for the next Julia Stiles project. This is coming in June this year. Jeri Ryan has returned to star in Star Trek Picard, which has been keeping me entertained.

But with the possibility of seeing Sandra Bullock in TV series very remote, it’s been a long wait for the next feature, and after a few earlier release dates that didn’t happen, it finally made it.

And filled with enthusiasm, driven by the promo I was hoping for great things.

OK, the first few minutes are not exactly attention-grabbing, unless you’re attracted to wig-wearing book cover models acting strangely, or expect a middle-aged woman would want to wear a pink glittery jumpsuit to a serious interview.

Unless there was a reason, and I missed it.

However, that puzzlement is over once we’re introduced to the nice bad guy, a brilliantly played by Daniel Radcliffe, who certainly is no longer Harry Potter, and thank God for that.

From that point on, while definitely forgetting about pink jumpsuits or stereotyping book cover models, we join the ride.

There are a few leaps of faith, like her being almost an archaeologist in her own right, something not made very clear, but it’s forgivable because you need to have a few unexpected things coming out of left field to keep you on the edge of your seat.

I won’t say the end was like those that other famous or infamous archeologists conjured up being surrounded by Nazis and other assorted bad guys, but seeing the nice but evil Radcliff being dragged away was good enough.

As for the inevitable treasure that is expected to be found, well, there is a treasure, but what it is will surprise you.

A Movie Review – Emma

This is not the first time I have seen a movie about Jane Austen’s Emma. The last one starred Gwyneth Paltrow who did a reasonable job of being the self-appointed matchmaker. In this new edition, the role of Emma went to Anya Taylor-Joy whom I thought was the better of the two.

In every one of these period pieces, it is always a treat to see who’s been roped into an acting role from a long list of old and new British television and film stars.

I was particularly pleased with Bill Nighy’s rendition of Mr. Woodhouse’s role, the running gag of searching for those invisible draughts, and strategic use of the fireside panels.

Rupert Graves, as Mr. Weston, the recipient of Emma’s matchmaking prowess (or otherwise) was also a welcome addition to what was an almost flawless selection of cast members.

But, other than the familiar plotline that included attempted matchmaking and the exercise of privilege, two things stood out. Johnny Flynn’s rendition of Mr. Knightley didn’t sit well with me as I kept going back to previous actors who filled the role, and who were in my opinion, better, and the other, the treatment of the clergy.

It seems to me that Jane Austen didn’t have much time for them because both in this and in Pride and Prejudice, the role seemed to require a buffoon rather than someone sensible. Perhaps it was best portrayed as such as it added some comic light relief from some of the more stodgy moments.

I give it a three out of five stars.

A movie review – Call of the Wild

It’s always a pleasure to go and see a movie with Harrison Ford in it, whether beating off a hoard of crooked treasure hunters or just being a grumpy old man.

In this, he was playing his grumpy old man.

But it’s the dog, Buck, a cross between a St Bernard and a Scotch Collie that steals the show.

And rightly so.

Everyone else came to see Harrison Ford, who comes in and out of the picture until the end.  I came to see the dog, whom I think might well be nicknamed ‘the great galuka’ though I have no idea where that name originated.

Certainly, for sheer size and energy he bounds his way across the countryside, from his home in California to the wilds of the Yukon and Alaska, from being a spoilt household pet, then a sled dog and part of a group of other dogs, delivering mail, then a sled dog for a cruel gold seeker, to finally becoming a companion for an old man, yes, Harrison Ford, who saved him from a certain death, who seeks to get away from everyone and everything.

The end is sad in one sense but uplifting in another, nor did I find any part of it slow-moving or boring.

Solid performances all round.

I give it four stars out of five.

The cinema of my dreams – I never wanted to go to Africa – Episode 45

Our hero knows he’s in serious trouble.

The problem is, there are familiar faces and a question of who is a friend and who is foe made all the more difficult because of the enemy, if it was the enemy, simply because it didn’t look or sound or act like the enemy.

Now, it appears, his problems stem from another operation he participated in, and because of it, he has now been roped into what might be called a suicide mission.

 

We flew north at low altitude, crossing the border into the Sudan, then ran along the border, heading back to the landing field we’d arrived on in Uganda.

It was basically a two-hour flight that in the end was eventless.  After everything that had happened over the past 24 hours, it wasn’t hard to doze off, leaving Davies to get us back.

I was woken suddenly by a thump on my arm.

“Need your help landing this crate,” a squeaky voice in my ear said.

I could feel the plane losing altitude, and the engines not making the same noise as they had just before I’d dropped off to sleep.  It seemed like it was only a few minutes ago we were taking off.

She leveled the plane at 1000 feet, and flew over the airfield, the landing lights on, and I could see the strip from start to end.  It looked a lot longer than the one we’d taken off from.

Turning sharply, I could hear the landing gear being activated and saw green lights come on one the dashboard.  Down and locked I assumed.

She then went through a series of landing checks and told me what she wanted me to do to assists, and then everything seemingly OK, we came in to land.

This landing was a lot bumpier than that in the C130 earlier, but she got us there, throttled back, and slowed the speed before heading for the terminal buildings.

Once there, she let the engines run for about a minute or so before switching them off.

Once the propellers stopped turning, the silence in the cockpit was strange.  At the rear, the door was opened, and everyone was getting off, the Colonel first to make sure none of his men shot anyone by mistake, and then the rest of the team.

Davies and I were the last to leave.  I got the impression she would have stayed, just a little longer, and it was telling that she patted the dashboard in what I would call a loving manner, thanking the aircraft for its service.

“I can see you like flying these old planes,” I said, still seated and taking in the moment.

“There’s something about them.  You have to fly them, they don’t fly you, not like the F15’s or any of those other jets that have autopilots.  No, this comes from the days of real flying.”

“You said your Dad has one?”

“Yep.”

“Then the art of flying is not lost on you.  Perhaps one day when I get lost, somewhere where this plane lives, you can take me up.”

“Any time.”

She dragged herself out of the left seat and headed towards the rear of the plane.  I took a moment longer, then followed her.

Maybe she could teach me how to fly.

Or maybe not.

I keep forgetting I hate flying in planes.

As I stepped off the plane onto terra firma again, I could see just inside the range of my peripheral vision, some activity by the terminal building.

Suddenly, a man was running towards us.  He was also yelling out, words to the effect, ‘they’re coming’.

Who?

The Colonel looked up just as the man, almost hunched over out of breath, reached him.

“They’re coming.  A helicopter, heading towards us.”  Several more huge breaths, then, “An hour at best.”  He looked at me.  “You have to go.”

Then he handed the Colonel a sheet of paper, and he quickly scanned it.

Then he said, “Your friendly militia decided the ransom wasn’t enough and they’re coming to take them back.”

“How is that possible?  Can they just cross borders like that?”

“This is Africa.  Anything can happen.  By the time their mission is done, it’ll be too late for us to scramble anything to attack them.  You need to go.”

Davies had come back, assuming it had something to do with the plane, and after taking in what the Colonel had to say, said, “We need more fuel.  Not much, but it’ll take time.”

The fuel truck had already come out and begun the refueling.

“Go tell the driver how much you need.  You’ve probably got a half-hour, a little more before you take off and go before, they get here.”

She headed towards the fuel truck, muttering under her breath.

I yelled out to Monroe, “Round up everyone and get them back on the plane.  Wheels up in half an hour.”

I could see her mouth the word why.

“Seems we’re about to get a visit from some very unfriendly people.”

Enough said.

 

© Charles Heath 2020

‘Jungle Cruise’ – a review

Having gone on several of the Disney rides in locations other than in the US, I had no first-hand knowledge of what it might be like.

That aside, I have had a wealth of old movie viewing to fuel my imagination for what to expect, and those experiences didn’t let me down. Hollywood’s vision of the jungle has not changed much in the last 50 odd years.

And, with the Humphrey Bogart classic, The African Queen, firmly planted in the back of my mind, and this latest venture set in the same period, I was ready for anything the jungle could throw at me.

In this outing, the premise is a treasure hunt, not for actual treasure, but a life saving flower that grows on a tree somewhere in the jungle. Adventurers have been seeking it for many centuries, including a hapless expedition of Spaniards.

It was, as it should be, the stuff of legends.

We have all the usual suspects, man eating natives, poison darts, killer creatures including lots of snakes (and I hate snakes), rapids and waterfalls. And, yes, there’s the boat being saved at the last second from going over the edge. I had to wonder if that was a ‘feature’ of the ride in reality.

Visually, the jungle never looked better. If indeed, it was the actual jungle.

Like ‘The Mummy’ there is the hapless brother providing the comic light relief, and, I have to say, he did it quite well.

There is the strong willed, self-sufficient woman ready to face any danger, well, just about everything, except for one simple fear, for which it seems all superheroes have that makes them human.

And the fact she wears pants is the running gag.

Then there’s the Skipper, not the captain, of the boat, who needs no introduction. Oddly though, he drives the boat like it’s an instalment of Fast and Furious. And for those who remember a kangaroo called Skippy, will not be surprised by the heroines retort when he calls her ‘pants’.

Of course, it would not be as exciting if there wasn’t the archetypal baddie and being set around the time of the first world war, it had to be a German who is seeking the ‘prize’ in order to win the war for Germany. It was played with just about the right amount of dripping menace.

For light-hearted entertainment, and one of the better two hours I’ve spent in a movie theatre, there are, surprisingly, a few twists and turns you don’t expect.

Then there is an obvious rapport between the two leads, sometimes missing in stories like these, but their relationship didn’t get in the way of reaching the satisfactory conclusion.

All in all, it was one of the more entertaining films I’ve seen in a while, one where at the end, I found myself wanting more. Perhaps it will be like Pirates of the Caribbean, and we’ll get to go on another ‘cruise’.

A Movie Review – Emma

This is not the first time I have seen a movie about Jane Austen’s Emma. The last one starred Gwyneth Paltrow who did a reasonable job of being the self-appointed matchmaker. In this new edition, the role of Emma went to Anya Taylor-Joy whom I thought was the better of the two.

In every one of these period pieces, it is always a treat to see who’s been roped into an acting role from a long list of old and new British television and film stars.

I was particularly pleased with Bill Nighy’s rendition of Mr. Woodhouse’s role, the running gag of searching for those invisible draughts, and strategic use of the fireside panels.

Rupert Graves, as Mr. Weston, the recipient of Emma’s matchmaking prowess (or otherwise) was also a welcome addition to what was an almost flawless selection of cast members.

But, other than the familiar plotline that included attempted matchmaking and the exercise of privilege, two things stood out. Johnny Flynn’s rendition of Mr. Knightley didn’t sit well with me as I kept going back to previous actors who filled the role, and who were in my opinion, better, and the other, the treatment of the clergy.

It seems to me that Jane Austen didn’t have much time for them because both in this and in Pride and Prejudice, the role seemed to require a buffoon rather than someone sensible. Perhaps it was best portrayed as such as it added some comic light relief from some of the more stodgy moments.

I give it a three out of five stars.

A movie review – Call of the Wild

It’s always a pleasure to go and see a movie with Harrison Ford in it, whether beating off a hoard of crooked treasure hunters or just being a grumpy old man.

In this, he was playing his grumpy old man.

But it’s the dog, Buck, a cross between a St Bernard and a Scotch Collie that steals the show.

And rightly so.

Everyone else came to see Harrison Ford, who comes in and out of the picture until the end.  I came to see the dog, whom I think might well be nicknamed ‘the great galuka’ though I have no idea where that name originated.

Certainly, for sheer size and energy he bounds his way across the countryside, from his home in California to the wilds of the Yukon and Alaska, from being a spoilt household pet, then a sled dog and part of a group of other dogs, delivering mail, then a sled dog for a cruel gold seeker, to finally becoming a companion for an old man, yes, Harrison Ford, who saved him from a certain death, who seeks to get away from everyone and everything.

The end is sad in one sense but uplifting in another, nor did I find any part of it slow-moving or boring.

Solid performances all round.

I give it four stars out of five.

A Movie Review – Emma

This is not the first time I have seen a movie about Jane Austen’s Emma. The last one starred Gwyneth Paltrow who did a reasonable job of being the self-appointed matchmaker. In this new edition, the role of Emma went to Anya Taylor-Joy whom I thought was the better of the two.

In every one of these period pieces, it is always a treat to see who’s been roped into an acting role from a long list of old and new British television and film stars.

I was particularly pleased with Bill Nighy’s rendition of Mr. Woodhouse’s role, the running gag of searching for those invisible draughts, and strategic use of the fireside panels.

Rupert Graves, as Mr. Weston, the recipient of Emma’s matchmaking prowess (or otherwise) was also a welcome addition to what was an almost flawless selection of cast members.

But, other than the familiar plotline that included attempted matchmaking and the exercise of privilege, two things stood out. Johnny Flynn’s rendition of Mr. Knightley didn’t sit well with me as I kept going back to previous actors who filled the role, and who were in my opinion, better, and the other, the treatment of the clergy.

It seems to me that Jane Austen didn’t have much time for them because both in this and in Pride and Prejudice, the role seemed to require a buffoon rather than someone sensible. Perhaps it was best portrayed as such as it added some comic light relief from some of the more stodgy moments.

I give it a three out of five stars.