Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Got hold of a free DVD (well, free bar the price of a newspaper) a few weeks ago; Roger Moore in Gold, a film about goldmining in South Africa. I also have a collection of James Bond DVD's, among them Diamonds Are Forever. This took me back to the autumn of 1976; when, as a birthday treat, I went to see these films on a double bill at the long-gone Capital Cinema, in Cardiff. Don't ask me why anyone thought to put them together; both about precious gems, one starring Sean Connery as James Bond, the other starring his successor? On a whim, I watched them back to back (Gold then Diamonds Are Forever, the same order they were shown in all those years ago) on a particularly wet afternoon. And let's face it, that's the only way you'll get to see a double bill these days.

At the time, I had the choice of seeing a film in the balcony, or the stalls. Today, of course, we have the Multiplex, and films are rolled out on a conveyor belt (cinema, DVD, subscription channel) as the film-makers go for a fast buck in the celluloid version of fast food. No longer do you see banners proclaiming 'Retained for a sixteenth fantastic week!' as a film is shown every hour (every half hour, if there's a real demand for it) until it has exhausted it's box office potential. This also means no more queueing around the block (which I also sort of miss; did I really queue up for an hour and a half to see Close Encounters of the Third Kind , back in 1978, and Grease, a few months later?)

And so it's a farewell to the double bill, but I saw some good one's. James Bond couplets were a regular event. Horror films, of course; I first saw The Exorcist on a rerun with Exorcist 2 - The Heretic, when they showed the sequel first; David Cronenberg's Shivers & Rabid was a spectacularly stomach churning pairing, while Magnum Force and The Enforcer introduced me to Dirty Harry (I can't think why they showed the two sequels instead of the original, either).
In the months leading up to the realease of The Return of the Jedi, Star Wars & The Empire Strikes Back were screened under the banner heading 'Together and as they should be seen - on the big screen'. Sequels, of course, were a regular event; Rocky & Rocky 2, Every Which Way But Loose & Any Which Which Way You Can. You could certainly get your monies worth in those days, as film makers tried to grab that little bit extra at the box office.

There is a fascinating 60's trailer on the 'extra's' selection of one of my Bond DVDs.
'Can one film contain this much adventure? Can one film contain this much excitement? Can one film contain this many girls? ... NO! Catch 'Thunderball' & 'You Only Live Twice' at a cinema near you!.
Sadly, those days have gone forever. CGI is king, an good stories have (all but ) been sacrificed for a compendium of ever more improbable action sequences; spectacular, but when the cast are reduced to special effects themselves, it's difficult to get involved. 28 Days Later was a gripping tale of survival, 28 Weeks Later was a shooting match where the plight of the survivors took second place to the carnage. Bruce Willis became a star in Die Hard, then walked through the sequels; John McClane is now the sum of his one-liners (or 'zingers' as they are known in the trade). Films just aint what they used to be.

Or are they? What's with all these frigging remakes? The Omen was a pointless cash-in on the 06-06-06 release date.
Forgetting the debacle that was Sly Stallone in Get Carter, The Long Good Friday is to suffer the indignity of a Chicago-set rehash (somebody kick the moron who greenlighted this blasphemy ... IMMEDIATELY!)
What was the point of The Hitcher with Sean Bean, or The Hills Have Eyes? Now, it seems, we're going to get The Fly (a remake of a remake!) . Ocean's 13 was a sequel to a sequel to a remake. Was The Hills have Eyes 2 a remake of a sequel to the original, or a sequel to the remake of the original? Who cares, these films usually go straight to DVD, or they are costly flops like the recent Poseidon. Peter Jackson's 'King Kong' is a nice companion to the 1933 original, but that is a unique exception to the rule (Casino Royale doesn't really count as a remake, even if it is the 3rd version of the story).

In short (not that I often do things that way) get some new idea's ... And stop remaking Michael Caine films!!!

Now where was I? Oh yes, no more double bills. On second thoughts, maybe I didn't know when I was well off!