A-Z Film Challenge: Day Eleven

To be honest, I struggled with ‘K’. I had some ideas of course, as one ‘K’ film had recently featured in my Top Ten of all time. It goes without saying that this will be my top pick today, but what of the other suggestions?

Two British films start this look at ‘K’, and they are very different from each other. ‘The Killing of Sister George’ (1968) is an adaptation of an earlier stage play. On first sight, it may not appear to be anything special. It is mainly set in the bitchy world of TV production, with ‘Sister George’ being the elderly character of a nurse, in a much-loved soap opera. The killing referred to is the intention of the programme makers to write her out of the script, as they are tired of not only the character, but the unreliable old actress who plays the part. However, the film’s central theme is actually about obsessive lesbian love, and features a relationship triangle between the elderly actress, her attractive younger lover, and the lustful lesbian TV executive who desires her. The cast is top notch. Sister George is played by Beryl Reid, someone mainly known for comedy roles. Her girlfriend is a seductive ‘innocent’, perfectly delivered by Susannah York. And the wonderful Coral Browne all but steals the film, with her simmering turn as the lecherous producer. An unusual subject, and superb British drama.

An unhappy working class boy from an abusive home, and a Kestrel. Again, this doesn’t sound like much. But add British film-maker Ken Loach, and a standout performance by the young David Bradley, film it in authentic locations in northern England, and you have a film rated in the top ten by the British Film Institute, ‘Kes’ (1969). This poignant tale of a misunderstood boy and his love for a bird of prey is simply unforgettable. Stalwart character acting from Lynn Perrie, Brian Glover, and Colin Welland add a documentary feel to this realistic British classic.

Hungary doesn’t feature much in the choices of many film fans. ‘Name one Hungarian film’ would be a good question for a quiz night. But I would name one, without hesitation. ‘Kontroll’ (2003) might be the only film ever made about ticket inspectors on an underground railway system. I know of no others myself. But this one is a complete delight. The hapless team of inspectors on Budapest’s subway system are a disparate band, with a thankless job. Nobody likes them, and the passengers’ antics to avoid paying drive them to distraction. This film is often very amusing, and you will be drawn into the different teams of ticket inspectors, I assure you. But it has a darker side too, with a mystery killer stalking the railway tracks, murdering people by pushing them under trains, to make it look like suicide.

Over to America, and a crop of notable films beginning with ‘K’. The crime thriller ‘Klute’ (1971) is an excellent example of a crisply delivered modern film noir. Alan J. Pakula teams up Donald Sutherland as the titular detective, alongside an on-form Jane Fonda, as the cynical call-girl, Bree Daniels. Klute is a small-town cop, hired by a rich family to investigate the unexplained disappearance of a top executive. At first, the rather gormless Klute is out of his depth in the big city, and when he tracks down Bree, she plays him for all she is worth. But the tension builds as they discover more about the shady dealings and corruption behind the disappearance, and the twists and turns guarantee that the viewer is firmly hooked. Fonda won the Best Actress Oscar for this film, and you will see why. Sutherland gives one of his best performances as the confused investigator, and Roy Scheider features too, as a suitably unlikable pimp. I really recommend this one.

Robert De Niro, Jerry Lewis, and a wonderfully manic Sandra Bernhard. What a cast! Add direction from the talented Martin Scorsese, and you have the tragically overlooked yet fine drama from 1982, ‘The King of Comedy’. Although set in the world of professional comedians, this is a long way from being a comedy film. I have seen it described as a ‘black comedy’, but I would rate it as great drama. The unsuccessful comedian Rupert Pupkin will do anything to get a break. He pesters his comedy idol, Jerry Langford (Lewis) to give him a short spot on a popular TV show. But when that fails, he enlists the help of another obsessive, Masha, (Bernhard) who is madly in love with Jerry. Together, they hatch a plot to kidnap the star, with Masha achieving her dream of a date with him, and Rupert demanding his own one-off show as a ransom for his release. This is a very different film. Full of pathos and tragedy, with an outstanding performance from De Niro against type.

I should also briefly mention both versions of ‘The Killers.’ The 1946 original, and the later 1964 remake are both as good as each other, and tell an identical story, with a very slight alteration. When two professional killers are hired to kill a mild-mannered man, they are surprised by the job, and by the way the man stands and accepts his fate. They decide to investigate the ‘hit’, and the films tell the story in flashback. The first film gave the lead role to Burt Lancaster, and a similar character is played by John Cassavetes, in the remake. As the main killer, you have the choice of William Conrad in 1946, and Lee Marvin in the later version. Femme fatales are supplied by Ava Gardner and Angie Dickinson, respectively. Hard to choose, so just watch them both.
As I am on the theme of killers, I cannot leave out the very unusual hit-man film from Ben Wheatley, ‘Kill List’ (2011). This British crime thriller is a great deal more, descending into a psychological mind-bender that will both amaze and confuse as is goes on. With a convincing central performance from Neil Maskell, and authentic location filming too, this is a film that will grow on you, and is never quite what it seems.

A long post today, so here is my final film, and my top choice. I have written about it many times before, so will keep it short. From my favourite director, Akira Kurosawa, this stunning historical epic took my breath away in the cinema, and holds a rightful place in my top ten of all time.
‘Kagemusha: The Shadow Warrior’ (1980). Simply amazing visuals, and an intricate plot too.

Advertisements

86 thoughts on “A-Z Film Challenge: Day Eleven

  1. Backtracked to ‘K’ post as last night we watched Kajaki and were blown away (no pun intended but it’s there anyway!). Just brilliant, great acting and how they made the injuries look so real is beyond me. A great British movie. I liked the fact there was no musical soundtrack so everything felt very real, and in the ‘extra’s’ section on the blu-ray were interviews with some of the survivors, all who said the film was spot on! It’s my new top K film, sorry to Kevin Spacey but no match for this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As you watched that on my recommendation, I am doubly pleased. That is some powerful film- making indeed, and I am immensely pleased that you agreed with my review.
      Best wishes to you and Phil. Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sorry I missed out yesterday. I’m racking my brains to remember if I saw Kagemusha, but I think not, only RAN, which was impressive, but less so than Seven Samurai and his other earlier ones. I obviously have to watch Kagemusha to see how it stands up.

    There aren’t so many K’s. But I love Kaos, the Taviani brothers’ retelling of Pinadello’s stories of old Sicily. It’s beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. HA! I don’t know any of the films in your list today. I’ll have to take them into consideration. Letter K seems hard. Hmm. I can only think of killing and kings.
    Kill Bill 1 & 2, and King Kong, and King Arthur. I like your choices better. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. K was the hardest so far, Cindy. I have the 2004 version of ‘King Arthur’ on DVD. But it’s a nonsense, and at best a guilty pleasure, so I couldn’t feature it.
      I was surprised that you didn’t know ANY of these, so will firmly recommend ‘Klute’ which is still wonderful, after all this time.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. The ‘The’ doesn’t count. I just couldn’t stand the film! Perhaps I was too old when it was released, or just that I find the ‘kid’ unbearable. But it’s a very popular film, and a favourite of my stepson too. (He’s 30)
          Best wishes, Pete.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Ah my apologies. I’m new to the challenge quiz. But no I doubt it’s due to your age heh since I adore movies from the 1940’s and other timeless classics. I just thought I would mention it but it’s not a firm favourite of mine. But yes the kid wasn’t the best of actors and it can be a little cringe worthy at times.

            Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Emerald. That’s great to hear. It’s a charming movie isn’t it. I also have some of the music in my playlist. I also love some of the other Studio Ghibli movies I have, such as Howls Moving Castle and Spirited Away. ☺

        Liked by 2 people

          1. I have those movies too. They are stunning in their own animated way and the music just takes you on such an adventurous trail. I have a witten quote in my writing book which I love from The Wind Rises – ” inspiration unlocks the future”. Each Studio Ghibli movie is wonderful in it’s one charming way of course. I’m glad to hear you love them as much as me.

            Liked by 1 person

        1. I do indeed, but should have added that I only really enjoy them in the original Japanese language, with subtitles. Hearing the dubbed versions, with the voices of well-known actors, tends to spoil the magic for me.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. As an admirer of many foreign movies..I understand what you mean..and I have watched no st of them in Japanese too. I think subtitles help with making certain jokes more humorous when you read it and watch their facial expression so that’s always entertaining.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. Good list. Yes, I thought many people would mention Kill Bill too. I studied ‘Kiss Me Deadly’ and is a fabulous noir film with some scenes that have become classics (and Tarantino has referenced more than once). Kill List I really enjoyed but must try and catch Kontroll (we also studied Klute… What memories!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had ‘Kiss Me Deadly’ on my original list, and replaced it with ‘The Killers’ as the post was getting too long. The first time I ever noticed Cloris Leachman, who became such a great actress.
      ‘Kontroll’ is a really enjoyable oddball film, Olga.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

    1. Thanks very much, Sarah. I know that ‘King of Comedy’ can be hard to take. I presume that was intentional. ‘Kontroll’ is a little European gem. It is sometimes shown on Film 4.
      Best wishes, Pete. x

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I can’t imagine a young chap like you even wanting to watch it, to be honest. I had to sit through that with with my parents. The kids in it irritated me no end, and I thought it was stagey and dull. But it is very popular, so I’m happy that you made a different choice today. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Some in there that I can’t remember you mentioning before but glad to say I managed a few of them. Kes is my kind of film, having read the book in my teens and Kontroll was odd enough to be memorable, very funny at times.
    Like Kim and David, I would have to choose the Kill Bill trilogy though. I have watched the three of them countless times and fail to be bored by the blood, gore, action and of course the humour of it all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My first reply disappeared! Second try.

      You are one of the few people I know who has seen ‘Kontroll’, so I was glad that you ‘got’ it. As a Yorkshire Lad, I had a feeling you would appreciate ‘Kes’. The ‘Kill Bill’ films were deliberately not mentioned, as I fully expected almost everyone to choose them, to be honest.
      Cheers mate, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Having spent a good many years of my life in Kansas City, I obviously put Robert Altman’s “Kansas City” (1996) on my short list. And now, living just across the border from the Golden State, I couldn’t resist putting “Kalifornia” (1993) on the list as well. Is it actually a great film? Let’s just say “the truth is out there.” As a Paul Verhoeven fan, I immediately thought of “Keetje Tippel” (1975), one of his early Dutch efforts that’s in my collection. The elephant in the “K” room, of course, is “King Kong.” You can pick whatever version you like, but I actually enjoy Peter Jackson’s 2005 film, even though at times it goes overboard (like running beneath the feet of stampeding dinosaurs). It’s saved not only by the special effects, but also by the outstanding acting of Naomi Watts.

    At the top of my very short list of “K” films are a classic—”Key Largo,” starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall—and a cult favorite—”Kill Bill: Volumes 1 & 2″ (2003/04), starring Uma Thurman and David Carradine. It’s something of a toss-up for me, but I’ll give top billing to “Kill Bill,” my favorite film directed by Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino has indicated he will one day film a third volume, but I’m not sure that is advisable. Bill has already been killed, so…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I watched the original ‘King Kong’ (1933) when I was eight years old. It was on a home projector, screened on a wall. I thought Fay Wray was amazing, and cried for Kong when he was killed. I just can’t watch another version with that same feeling.
      ‘Kalifornia’ is a dark yet enjoyable thriller with a terrific cast, I saw it at the cinema, and owned the VHS tape too. One of the few films to get a full five star review from Roger Ebert, and an exercise in building tension. It set a standard and style for many lesser offerings that followed.
      ‘Kill Bill’ was a slick and stylish project that I really enjoyed. I expected most people to choose that.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I haven’t seen ‘Kingsman’. It has a great cast though. Is it some sort of modern version of King Arthur? I confess that I thought it would be silly! Maybe I will watch it on TV. The ‘Kill Bill’ films were deliberately left off, as I thought everyone would choose them. I loved them though, great idea from Tarantino.
        Best wishes, Pete.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. No it’s more like an irreverent pastiche of the bond movies, it is funny at times but maybe you think fun is silly judging by your antipathy to marvel movies etc. Though Kingsmen is nothing like marvel stuff.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. See what I mean? No accounting for taste! 🙂
            I think ‘Kind Hearts and Coronets’ and ‘School for Scoundrels’ are what I consider to be ‘fun films’ really. I was joking about Mike Myers of course. 🙂 x

            Liked by 1 person

  7. Keys to the Kingdom with Gregory Peck as a missionary in China. How about The King’s Speech?

    I remember Klute and The Killing of Sister George from my younger days.

    🙂

    Regards from Florida

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had expected some love for ‘The King’s Speech’. It is very well done, and has an impeccable cast. I have seen it, but was left wondering if I cared whether a privileged royal had a stutter or not…
      The Gregory Peck film is also admired, but it is so long since I have seen it, and I generally think of Peck to be rather ‘wooden’.
      Thanks for playing along, Frank. Much appreciated.
      best wishes, Pete.

      Like

    1. Thanks for the unusual choice, Elizabeth. That re-working of The Taming of The Shrew has some nice songs from Cole Porter, that’s for sure. My Mum always loved to hear Howard Keel sing, and she had the record of the soundtrack.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I think I shall deviate from silly and go back 55 years or so to “Khartoum.“ I like docudramas too along with actors who were well known when I began to take an interest in cinema: Charleton Heston, Laurence Olivier, Richard Johnson, and Ralph Richardson.
    Warmest regards, Theo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was overwhelmed by that film when I was around 13 years old, Theo. I thought it was a brilliant epic, and got to see it in widescreen at a top London cinema. Years later, I bought the film on VHS, and was sad to find that it wasn’t nearly as good as I remembered. It is good to look at though.
      Thanks for the suggestion, I wondered if anyone would think of it.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

  9. Pete, I am posting my A-Z of movies tomorrow and I link to you because of one entry that you inspired me to include….that said, “King Of Comedy” is fantastic, and so is the little-known “Klute”, which I had already included! “Kagemusha” is a masterpiece and a perfect voice – but you forgot to mention “Killer Klowns From Outer Space!”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. johnrieber, at the time “Klute” came out in theaters (1971), it was very well known by moviegoers. I saw it myself at the movie theater. I’ve always liked Jane Fonda as an actress, though, of course, many won’t watch her films because of the Hanoi Jane nickname that persists to this day. I’m a huge fan of “Barbarella,” which is pure camp (I just wish they’d update the special effects and re-release it!), and have, or have seen, a number of her films, including truly obscure ones like “The Game Is Over” (“La Curée”) (1966) and “Spirits of the Dead” (1968).

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh yes it was a huge hit at the time, I’m referring to how it has completely fallen out of view, while other films of that era continue to resonate…your “Hanoi Jane” point is a valid one…

        Liked by 1 person

All comments welcome

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s