Posts Tagged ‘José Ferrer’

Dune” (1984)  —  movie review
With the release of the 2020 version of this movie due out “soon”, I decided to go back and look at the earlier version for perspective.
The 1984 version is directed by David Lynch and stars Kyle MacLachlan as Paul Atreides (the hero and main character), Francesca Annis as Lady Jessica (the hero’s mom), Jürgen Prochnow as Duke Leto Atreides (the hero’s dad), José Ferrer as Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV (the “real” main villain), Kenneth McMillan as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (the villain with the most screen time), Everett McGill as Stilgar (the leader of the Fremen of Arrakis), Sean Young as Chani (Stilgar’s daughter and the hero’s love interest), Alicia Witt as Alia (the hero’s younger sister), Paul L. Smith as The Beast Rabban (henchman #1), Sting as Feyd Rautha (henchman #2, who has a duel with the hero at the end), Patrick Stewart as Gurney Halleck (one of the hero’s teacher’s / trainer’s), Dean Stockwell as Doctor Wellington Yueh (a traitor to the House Atreides), and Max von Sydow as Doctor Kynes (the Freman who first thinks Paul is their “messiah”).  Whew!!
The movie is a pretty standard hero’s discovery plot with a browbeating religious overtone thrown-in for the heck of it.  There’s a bad Emperor who is playing to main families off against each other and using a “spice planet” (Arrakis) as the golden ring.  The spice has something to do with enhancing your ability to “see” the universe and to fold space so trips across the galaxy / universe are instantaneous.  The Altreides family are the good guys and the Harkonnen family are the evil guys.  The only planet (Arrakis) where you can get the spice is a desert world of heat, sand and giant “worms” which burrow through the sand / desert.  (This strangely reminded me of the movie “Tremors” from 1990, and which is a MUCH better movie.)
Anyway, the “Fremen” of Arrakis are awaiting a leader who will free them from the Emperor, blah, blah, blah.  And, along comes Paul.  A LOT more blah, blah, blah and Paul rides a worm, leads the Fremen, big staged knife duel with Sting and happily ever after.
Is this movie any good?  Does it do justice to the book?  Was it entertaining?  No, NO!!, and barely.
I read a couple of books in the Dune series (written by Frank Herbert) and, certainly the first book “Dune” is considered a “CLASSIC” in Science Fiction, space fiction, combat fiction and probably a couple of other “fiction” categories as well.  The first book (out in 1965) created a “universe” which the rest of the series builds on, but it (the first book) is bed rock.  As mentioned, I read them back in my very early 20’s, so back between 1975 and 1980 – when I was far more impressionable (Ha, ha).  I saw this movie when it came out and was extremely disappointed.  I have seen a few bits of it on YouTube, but never re-watched it (until today).  It has not improved with age.
I’m not sure if the book was too big (i.e. “Lord of the Rings“), or the movie suffered from poor vision by the director / producers, or just bad writing and acting, but the movie is plodding and the story / plot poorly communicated and pretty badly acted.  So, no, the movie does not do justice to the book.
But, is it entertaining?  Well, other than the interpretation of the giant worms, no.  I found myself looking for the actors to see who I recognized from other roles and trying to place them.  When a movie is a little over two hours long and it feels like it’s well over four hours long, it’s either REALLY good or not so much…  (Understatement!)
Final recommendation:  Poor movie.  Not a BAD movie, but it should have / could have been SO much better.  This movie pretty much ruined me for MacLachlan and I’ve hated Sting in everything I’ve ever seen him in – including most of his music videos (who’s early music – “The Police“, not his solo stuff – I mostly enjoyed).  I sure hope the re-make is better.  Fortunately, this version has set the bar pretty low.
On This Day In:
2019 Not Enough
2018 One Thing We Do Know
2017 Preservation
2016 Going Back
2015 Just For Today
2014 Reaching For Destiny
2013 Still Just Passing Through
2012 Live Or Die
2011 On Secession
2010 A Rocky Weekend

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Today’s post is kind of a tape delay. The first book (“The Great Gatsby“) was finished a couple of weeks ago.  No real reason for the delay, except that I’ve been watching a fair amount of baseball and just haven’t made the time.  The second book (“The Prince“) was finished today.  The first movie (“The Caine Mutiny“) was watched on Saturday afternoon last, while the second (“Iron Man 3“) was watched yesterday.
The Great Gatsby was written by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925©) and is about a young man trying to find himself in New York in the 1920’s.  The man (Nick Carraway) is from the mid-west and goes east to seek his fortune in the big city.  It should be noted that he is already from a well-off family.  His job is in the city, but his residence is in a wealthy suburb where he meets the title character, a wealthy “business” man named Jay Gatsby.  Anyway, blah, blah, blah, life of extravagance / lost love / more blah, blah, / accident / death, end of story.
Widely considered a classic and “the great American novel”, the book is mostly read in high school and is now the basis for a soon to be released motion picture.  Actually, this is a remake.  There are four other versions, but one is “lost” (1926) and another is a made for TV (2000), so I’m not sure it really counts.  The most recent is from 1974 and starred Robert Redford as Gatsby.  I’ve never seen that version, so if I’m lucky, it’ll appear on TV soon as a promo for the new release which is due out this coming Friday.  The new version stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby and Tobey Maguire as Carraway.
I originally read this novel back in the Army when I hoped to get better educated in some of the “great” pieces of literature.  I escaped it while I was in high school.
Is it great?  No, at least I didn’t think so.  Is it a “classic”?  Yes.  When I first read it, I remember finishing it and thinking “Wow!  That was a great book, but I have no idea what it will mean in my life because there was no basis for common experience.”  Okay, maybe a twenty year old sergeant in the Army didn’t think in those exact words, but that was the gist of my reaction.  Thirty plus years later, if you asked me what it was about, I’d have told you, “rich guys in the ’20’s”.  And that’s it…  So, was it worth reading again?  Only to the extent that it prepares me for watching the new movie.  Would I recommend reading it?  Yes, but with qualifications.  If you are interested in one of the great works of fiction by one of the bohemian writers from the early 20th century – definitely.  If you want to see a “crafted” novel (I’m not sure what that means, but I keep seeing the description in reader reviews) – definitely.  If you’re trying to better understand the American rich of the 1920’s – definitely.  If you’re trying to find a novel which will change your life?  Well, it didn’t do it for me back in the ’70’s and even less so with a second go.  Final recommendation – moderate recommend;  but I’d wait and just go see the movie.  It will cost you less time from your life. (I hope to review the movie next week, so you may want to hold off.)
The Prince” was written by Niccolò Machiavelli (1513).  Any book on politics which survives 400 years is bound to be considered a “classic” and this is (both considered and IS).  There are a multitude of observations about gaining and keeping power in the city / state of the Renaissance Era Italy.  I think, with a bit of careful consideration and some adaptation, many of Machiavelli’s ideas are still valid.  I rather doubt gathering one’s enemies in a room and strangling them, would be considered appropriate in this day and age – even in Italy.  Anyway, I found the book to be extremely interesting and I highly recommend it for its historical value even if not for its application in today’s world.
One negative for this version (Wordsworth Reference [1993©]) is the translation seems to be quite literal from Italian and therefore the language is extremely flowery which makes for difficult reading, but otherwise, it’s a fast read and well worth reading and consideration among the other classics in politics.  And, of course, this means you will now see Machiavellian quotes from time to time.
As mentioned above, I watched “The Caine Mutiny” on Saturday.  I must admit, I’ve seen the movie several times in my lifetime, but I never remember much about it except the roles played by Humphrey Bogart and José Ferrer.  Everyone else is good, too, but these two are great.  If you liked the military courtroom drama of “A Few Good Men” or “The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell“, then I think you’ll like this movie too.  This is a CLASSIC Bogart role and (IMHO) you can’t honestly say you are a Bogart fan unless you’ve watched this movie.  Of course, Bogart’s testimony at the trial is what makes the movie.  This is a must-see movie!!
The second movie I’m reviewing is the recently released “Iron Man 3“.  In full disclosure mode, I must admit that I spent many hours of my childhood reading (and collecting) Marvel Comics, so of course I have a natural bias for ALL Marvel Comic movie adaptations.  Having said that, this is a VERY good movie!  It’s entertaining with a plot, comedy (slap-stick and quips), action (fights and explosions), excellent special effects and once again, Robert Downey, Jr. ROCKS as Tony Stark (the man inside the suit), particularly when he’s NOT inside the suit.
Was the movie accurate to the comics?  No.  Particularly as it relates to the Mandarin (who is Chinese in the comics but British in the movie).  Does it matter?  Nah.  What did (slightly) miff me was that there were no power-rings.  Instead there was a weak terrorist group called “The Ten Rings“.  Really?  Really?  Nah, it didn’t work for me.  Other than that, I thought this was a sound effort, particularly after the “relative” let down (well, I was very let down) of “Iron Man 2“.  Again, is it great cinema:  No.  Is it an entertaining movie:  heck YEAH!  Final recommendation:  Highly recommended!
I can’t wait for the DVD so I can have a marathon viewing!
Oh yeah, in the Disney “Small World” vein:  José Ferrer was in “The Caine Mutiny” and his son (who is a virtual ringer), Miguel José Ferrer, is in “Iron Man 3“.  Daddy was terrific. Son, less so.
On This Day In:
2012 God’s Requirements
2011 Greater Purity

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