‘1 Man 365 Films 365 Days’ – Day 314

#307/ 365 – ‘Das Boot’ (1981) – 200 mins
IMDb Challenge #187/ 250 – Ranked #64 – DVD Collection

It is 1942 and the German submarine fleet is heavily engaged in the so-called “Battle of the Atlantic” to harass and destroy English shipping. With better escorts of the Destroyer Class, however, German U-Boats have begun to take heavy losses. “Das Boot” is the story of one such U-Boat crew, with the film examining how these submariners maintained their professionalism as soldiers, attempted to accomplish impossible missions, while all the time attempting to understand and obey the ideology of the government under which they served.

Watching Das Boot was kind of like watching ‘The Hunt For Red October’ at quarter speed, this was probably down to the fact I was viewing Wolfgang Petersen’s 200 minute directors cut. It’s a solid enough war film with a taut, tense, claustrophobic feel from time to time, but the story soon becomes extremely labouring in seeing the submariners go about their repetitive missions. Far from deserves its tag as possibly the best war movie ever made.

#308/ 365 – ‘The Departed’ (2006) – 151 mins
IMDb Challenge #188/ 250 – Ranked #59 – DVD Collection

The Boston police department manages to place young cadet Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) deep undercover in the city’s Irish-American gangland, run by the violent Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). But gangster Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) has also signed on to join the police force, planning to leak information back to Costello.

Hollywood has a long history and reputation for conjuring up awful remakes of foreign movies. The complete list is exhaustive to detail here, but ‘REC.’ (Spanish) to ‘Quarantine’ and ‘Nikita’ (French) to ‘Point of No Return’ are just a couple of unforgiving examples. However once in a blue moon, one remake will come along to join a very rare club to which it is better than the original, and Martin Scorsese reworking of Wai-keung Lau and Alan Mak, ‘Infernal Affairs (2002)’, is blistering example of this.

In ‘The Departed’, Scorsese has retained the essential plot structure of Infernal Affairs but has transformed the movie into something truly of his own. For me the characters are better defined and situations are given a greater opportunity to breathe.

Scorsese draws you in from the very first scene with a captivating monologue courtesy of a memorable William Monahan screenplay – “I don’t want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me” delivered scorchingly by Jack Nicholson who fills the screen effortlessly as Mafia boss Frank Costello.

The storyline throughout twists its itself into knots, as both Captain Queenan (Martin Sheen) and Costello suspect a mole in their midst, the performances are riveting from a top-notch cast, watching DiCaprio and Damon spar for the whole film is electrifying. Even before their paths cross in a thrilling final showdown, they’re sending out sparks at each other. The pace is frantic and the dialogue is as tough, as its gangster filled unapologetic violence. You could argue bloodshed in The Departed is tame compared to what Scorsese has given us in the past.

The Departed is one of the finest crime thrillers of the Noughties and Martin Scorsese, at the top of his game.

#309/ 365 – ‘Immortals’ 3D – 110 mins
Cinema Challenge #120 / 115

According to Greek mythology, an ancient battle in heaven saw the victors calling themselves Gods while the vanquished Titans were imprisoned for eternity. But in the age of man, megalomanic King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) sets out to unleash the Titans and overthrow the Gods of Olympus. To do this, he needs the legendary lost Bow of Epirus. But as Hyperion’s brutal Heraklion army march across Greece, razing village after village in search of this weapon, young stonemason Theseus (Henry Cavill) vows to avenge the death of his mother in one of their raids.

I’m going to keep this very short but not very sweet. That’s not to say Immortals isn’t very sweet to look at on its outside as it marvels in some great sugary eye candy against a backdrop of some impressive post production 3D, which is the best we’ve seen in a while. Unfortunately Tarsem Singh completely forgets to inject any ingredients on its inside, where it’s just full of lifeless dialogue and the performances are one-note.

So if you haven’t got any substance in a movie to which Immortals is severely lacking in and is never engaging along its Epirus Bow clunky plot, for me then you simply haven’t got a movie at all and everything just becomes a dry and dull watch for 110 minutes – I give you Immortals.

#310/ 365 – ‘Double Indemnity’ (1944) – 107 mins
IMDb Challenge #189/ 250 – Ranked #53 – TV

Smooth talking insurance salesman Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) meets attractive Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck) when he calls to renew her husband’s automobile policy. The couples are immediately drawn to each other and an affair begins. They cook up a scheme to murder Mr. Dietrichson for life insurance money with a double indemnity clause. Unfortunately, all does not go to plan…

Billy Wilder (‘Some Like It Hot’) had a formidable talent as comedic screenwriter, director and producer. He was truly one of Hollywood’s best, if not the best at this genre. He always managed to tell engaging stories with characters you’ll never forget. However despite this comedic writing, in Double Indemnity his darkest film he showed unforgettable versatility.

Told though a flashback of confession and powered by some break neck dialogue, Wilder intricately weaves this tale of web of lust, lies and betrayal through great dark ambition that promises instant wealth.

MacMurray is the brilliant playing the loveless sucker, a man whose smart enough to devise a good plan, but easily manipulated with promises of eternal love, and the line “Yes, I killed him. I killed him for money – and a woman – and I didn’t get the money and I didn’t get the woman. Pretty, isn’t it?” perfectly sums up his character. Edward G Robinson steals many a scene as Chandler’s bulldog of a boss, an insurance investigator who you wouldn’t want to submit your claim too – trust me.

However the show truly belongs to Barbara Stanwyck playing Phyllis Dietrichson, who smoulders as the ultimate femme fatale with a heart of stone and a backbone of steel.

Double Indemnity is dark, elusive and totally powerful. A perfect representation of what classic film noir is all about.

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