East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


It’s all fun and games until… – The Last of Sheila

The Last of Sheila is a 1973 mystery movie that I first saw somewhere in the early ’80s, during a long summer, and indeed, what’s better than a good chiller on a hot summer night?
Or in a cold winter night – and so I re-watched the movie last night, to see if it was as good as I remembered.
Well, mostly it was.

The basic premise: Sheila was killed in a hit-and-run accident. One year later, her husband reunites a number of friends on his yacht to play a game. How the game is connected to Sheila’s death is part of the mystery.

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Another War of the Worlds: Revolt (2017)

As part of my plan to milk the Amazon Prime Video subscription for all it’s worth, and as a way to take a break from the rowers’ bench to which I’ll be chained for the next twenty days, I dug into the science fiction offer of Prime and came up with the very generically titled Revolt, from 2017.

And what the heck, this is a nice little SF movie, that looks and plays a lot better than the official budget of 4 million dollars might lead us to expect.

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Game of Aces, a review

1248e1fe4ba33ae9537c3e5dccf30937Game of Aces is a 2016 historical action/adventure movie that got a limited release in theaters and was later available on demand in streaming – today you can catch it on Amazon video or Hulu.
Shot in the Death Valley desert doubling for the Egyptian desert by Damien Lay, an Australian director with a past as a documentary-maker, and a small international cast, the movie allegedly cost 500.000 dollars.
And while budgetary limits are evident, the end result is quite interesting, and decidedly worth a look if you like the things we like here on Karavansara.

This is a fun movie, that plays nicely its limited resources and is not as weak as some reviewers made it look.

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Comedy & Espionage: Q Planes (1939)

In the BBC radio program about The Avengers that I linked the other day, Brian Clemens1 mentioned the 1939 movie Q Planes as a film in which the prototype of John Steed first appeared.
So I went and watched the movie.
Because, John Steed.

That, in this specific case, is called Major Hammond, and is played as a suave upper class twit by Ralph Richardson.
Only he’s no twit at all, of course, being a tough and smart operative in the British intelligence.

The plot in a nutshell: German2 agents are using a sort of “death ray” to capture experimental aircraft and appropriate the top-secret technology. An ace pilot is caught up in the plot, and joins forces with a spy and a plucky journalist.

Here’s the first eight minutes – and a perfect introduction to the Richardson character…


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Other people’s Pulp: Arsène Lupin (2004)

arsene_lupin_decrieresI mentioned in a post a while back how my tastes in literature and movies were influenced – among a myriad of other things – by the 1970s French/European series about the exploits of Arsène Lupin.
Maurice Leblanc wrote 17 novels, 39 shorter works and 5 comedies about Arsene Lupin, between 1907 and 1941 (and one was published posthumously), and he created for the French audience a character with the cultural impact and weight of a Sherlock Holmes or a Tarzan, with a touch of Gallic anarchy and darkness.
Like Raffles and more than Raffles, Lupin was the archetypical gentleman thief.
The character was brought to the screen a number of times, and as portrayed by the late, great Georges Descrieres in the old TV series was a perfect modern-day swashbuckler, winning through smarts and not just brown.

In the last week, my brother dug out our collection of DVDs of the series, and started watching them – turns out he never saw it before. I can hear him laugh from where I sit.

So, to relax last night I re-watched the 2004 movie version, and latest incarnation of the Maurice Leblanc’s character, Arsène Lupin, as directed by Jean-Paul Salomé.

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Barbarian mirth: Ronal the Barbarian

Had lots of fun, a few nights back, watching Ronal the Barbarian, a Danish animation movie released in 2011.
It was the perfect end to a few weeks spent re-watching old sword & sorcery movies1, and a wonderful discovery.

The 90 minutes feature is basically what Pixar would do if Pixar movie characters were allowed to wear next to nothing and say f#ck a lot… and it is absolutely a hoot.

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I don’t know if you noticed, out there, but there’ a lot of talk about football (that’s soccer to some of you) in the media and on the streets, these days.

And while I’m not interested, really, I thought about this very old song and video, which seem to be fitting*.

She’s Joan Armatrading, the song is Drop the Pilot.

* And I think my friend Claire, with her passion for silent movies, might appreciate it (I’m pretty sure she does not know it)