8:00 PM, 12th May, 2001
Loosely based on a true story, this follows the events surrounding the crew of the Andrea Gail, a swordfishing boat that battled Mother Nature in 1991... and lost. Even though I knew it was a true story I still hoped that it would turn into some great film about people beating the odds and surviving. I was disappointed. Have I revealed too much? I say loosely based on real life because nobody really knows what happened to the crew on that trip, so it's all pretty much guesswork, isn't it.
As it stars George Clooney as Captain Billy Tyne, and Mark Wahlberg, you can be forgiven for getting excited, but I'll warn you now that they are both quite grotty sailors and wear big very unflattering overalls for most of the film. Am I being shallow? Captain Tyne's crew includes Bobby Shatford (Wahlberg), who is in love with divorced mum Diane Lane; Murph (Reilly), whose seafaring life has led to a friendly but sad separation from his wife and son; Bugsy (Hawkes), the sort of character who gets overlooked in crowds; Alfred Pierre (Payne), a Jamaican who has ventured into northern waters for the pay cheque; and a last-minute addition, Sully (William Fichtner). He and Murph don't like each other. Why not? Jealousy over Murph's wife, the movie says. To provide the plot with onboard conflict is my guess. This is a film that should be seen on the big screen, as the effects are pretty much the star of the film. Plot and character development rate a lowly second, but don't worry, you won't even notice. By the end of the film I was exhausted and feeling mildly seasick.
10:19 PM, 12th May, 2001
Geoffrey Thorpe is the leader of the "sea hawks", a band of adventurers who rob from the Spanish and give to the English. He's the good guy. He's played by Errol Flynn. Lord Wolfingham, a counsellor of Queen Elizabeth I, keeps telling the queen that by harbouring pirates like Thorpe she is failing to live up to England's international obligations. Wolfingham's the bad guy. He's secretly in league with Spain. He has "wolf" in his name. And hey, I buy this. Thorpe is so charming when he robs people, and the Spanish display such remarkably poor grace when they're being robbed((mdash))I know whose side I'm on.
If you want to see an Errol Flynn movie, this is the one to see. It opens with the crew of one huge wooden ship boarding another huge wooden ship, complete with cannon fire and people swinging on ropes; it ends with one of those sword fights involving a polished floor, a candelabra, and a big stone staircase. Carrying us from first moment to last, across a surprising amount of excitement, betrayal, and so forth, is a dazzling score by Austrian composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold. It's easily the best thing he wrote in Hollywood. Korngold gets so involved in the action that when Thorpe's crew bursts into song, it doesn't seem unnatural at all.