Weekend Viewing Roundup: Bourne & yes, more Gregory Peck marathon!

Hello all… it’s a cinema-free weekend roundup again I’m afraid. But I was really bummed out that Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Artist and Coriolanus, THREE of my most-anticipated movies I had hoped would arrive by now are NOWHERE to be found within a 50-mile radius. It’s a shame really, I mean, you’d think that given the excellent reviews the studios would at the very least consider ONE theater in Minneapolis area to carry their movie!! Seriously, sometimes I feel like Hollywood don’t think people in the Upper Midwest don’t watch movies! FYI, we don’t live in igloos, y’know…

Ok, end rant… just need to get that off my system…

Now, thank God for home cinema, as I managed to quite a few stuff this weekend.

Bourne Identity (2002)

As I mentioned in my Five for the Fifth post, we got the Bourne trilogy on Black Friday. This is one of the rare trilogies in which all three movies were actually GOOD, not just decent but EXCELLENT.  It’s been ages since we saw any of the Bourne movies and I kind of forgot most of the details about the first one.

A man is picked up by a fishing boat, bullet-riddled and without memory, then races to elude assassins and recover from amnesia.

Matt Damon really is the perfect choice as Bourne, which was a pleasant surprise to me at the time as he really didn’t strike me as the ‘bad-ass assassin trained to kill with his bare hands’ kind of guy. But yet, he is totally believable as that character, yet has the sensitivity to make you care for his well-being and his ‘mission’ to break away from everything he’s been trained to do. The supporting cast is top notch: Brian Cox, Chris Cooper, Julia Stiles… and Clive Owen in a brief-but-memorable role.

Based on Robert Ludlum’s novel and directed by Doug Liman (Mr & Mrs Smith), this is the anti-Bond espionage thriller that delivers on all counts… action, suspense, intrigue, even romance. German actress Franka Potente (Run, Lola Run) is such a breath of fresh air than the typical Hollywood flawless-but-boring starlet as Bourne’s partner-in-crime turned lover. The filming locations in France, Czech Republic, Italy and Greece offer gorgeous scenery, as well as make the chase even more exciting. I also love the car chase with a vintage mini through the streets of Paris… it almost rival that one in the opening sequence of The Transporter.

Arabesque (1966)

My pal Vince recommended this to me just before I got on with my Gregory Peck marathon. Fortunately, it’s part of the Gregory Peck’s box set I bought just before Thanksgiving.

Story of international intrigue involving a university professor, an Arab prime minister, a ruthless businessman, a beautiful spy, and hieroglyphics.

Some of the reviews I read said this movie’s got a bit of Bond and a bit of Hitchcock. Even the DVD cover and the opening title design with Henry Mancini’s score is VERY Bond-esque. Now, I’ve always thought Gregory would make an awesome Bond, though given his credence, I seriously doubt he’d even consider playing such a role.

According to IMDb, the part of the bumbling professor David Pollock was originally written for Cary Grant, it’s really tailor-made for him. But you know what, I think Peck’s comic timing was pretty darn good. He had that inherently-likable quality about him and he seemed to relish in being all goofy after the serious roles he’s played. The star of the show however, is Sophia Loren. The ultra-sultry Italian actress was in her prime and was more than up for the task to play the seductive Arabic mystery woman Yasmin who knew more than she let on. The fashion by Christian Dior is almost a character itself in this movie, especially the ‘nighty’ she wears the first time she meets Pollock.

You don’t really take this kind of movie seriously, there are more plot holes than the plethora of shoes Loren wore in this movie. But it’s a good escapist fun through and through, with tons of cheeky, memorable scenes, especially the one where Pollock hides inside Yasmin’s shower and playing footsie when she drops the soap! In the Conversation with Gregory Peck documentary, Peck was asked in a Q&A if Loren was really naked in that scene. Peck was coy about it, replying… “I can’t really say, but the view was spectacular.” Ahah, we believe you, Mr. Peck!

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

Atticus Finch, a lawyer in the Depression-era South, defends a black man Tom Robinson against an undeserved rape charge, and his kids against prejudice.

Oh my… where do I begin… there are so many things I want to say on this one. When I’m done with my Gregory Peck marathon (probably in a couple of months?), I plan on writing special appreciation posts on a select few of his films, and for sure this one will be at the top of the list.

Minutes after the film’s over, I tweeted this.. ‘Some films will linger for days, some for weeks, and some a lifetime. I think To Kill A Mockingbird will stay with me forever…’ I’m still mulling it over after seeing this about 48 hours ago. I’m amazed why it took me this long to finally see this masterpiece. My friend Dan at Top 10 Films listed this as number one in his list of Top 10 American Films about Race and Prejudice, and rightly so.

On top of the momentous racial issue, this film also offer a moving depiction of fatherly love… Atticus Finch was the hero to his daughter Scout and son Jem first before he become the town hero defending racial prejudice. His tender scenes with Scout, especially in the bedroom reading scene, is as powerful as his courtroom speech. This is a role tailor-made for Peck who exemplifies quiet strength beautifully, I really can’t imagine anyone else in this role. His Oscar win (his fifth nomination) was truly well-deserved… and of course, more than a little overdue.

Besides Peck, the other performances are noteworthy as well. Brock Peters is excellent as Tom Robinson and his courtroom scenes are really heart-wrenching. Robert Duval in his debut performance only has a brief role here, but it’s certainly memorable. But the film truly belongs to Mr. Peck, it’s no wonder he’ll forever be known as Atticus Finch. It’s also fitting that AFI has chosen Atticus as the Number One On-Screen Hero in the last 100 Years.

Just a little trivia from IMDb:
The watch used in the film was a prop, but author Harper Lee gave Gregory Peck her father’s watch after the film was completed because he reminded her so much of him. Mary Badham (Scout) and Gregory Peck became close during filming and kept in contact for the rest of his life. He always called her Scout.


So what did you all see this weekend? If you’ve seen any of these films, I’d love to hear your thoughts as well.

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31 thoughts on “Weekend Viewing Roundup: Bourne & yes, more Gregory Peck marathon!

    • I never thought I’d have a marathon like that either, matey, but I guess when you’re in love ehm, anything is possible!! :D Fortunately most of his movies are VERY good, so it’s been an absolute blast!

      I highly recommend Guns of Navarone, I think you’ll enjoy that one a lot.

  1. I saw ‘Arabesque’ once and except for Sophia Loren, found it pretty forgettable. Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn are much more fun in ‘Charade,’ which is also Hitchcock-lite.

      • Hitchcock-lite is right, Rich. Yeah it’s not as compelling as Peck’s other films but still highly enjoyable. I guess I like Peck in all kinds of roles, serious, villainous, goofy, whatever, he’s just so watchable!! :D

  2. To Kill a Mockingbird is fantastic, sort of the ultimate in Southern Gothic in American film. Or at least, the best American film that puts the Southern Gothic tradition on display.

    • Glad you liked ‘Mockingbird’ John. It’s such an atmospheric film, all the scenes w/ the kids are soooo creepy, and here I thought it’s all gonna take place in the courtroom!

  3. I finally saw Super 8 over the weekend, I thought it was good, although the ET ending sort of ruined it for me. But the kids were great in the film. Also watched my annual Christmas film, Die Hard.

    I’ve never seen Arabesque but Shopia Loren is one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen in films, might have to check it out. We had read To Kill A Mockingbird in 9th grade back in high school, then our teacher showed us the film afterwards. Great book and very good film.

    I didn’t expect much from the first Bourne film but I thought it was great after I saw it. I own all three films on DVD, then HD-DVD and now Blu-ray. ha ha.

    • Yeah, there are tons of plot holes in Super 8 it’s not even funny, but the kids made it bearable. Oh yeah Die Hard, of course!

      I have the Arabesque DVD so you can just borrow from me. She looked like a goddess in that one, plus she’s got a nice chemistry w/ Greg Peck (well who wouldn’t!) I might check out the book eventually as Ivan’s getting me a Kindle for Christmas.

      I didn’t even like Matt Damon before he did Bourne but I gotta admit he was great. WOW, so you REALLY like this franchise don’t you? :)

  4. I was just about to ask you about To Kill A Mocking Bird when I saw it in your tumblr…but I don’t know how to leave message in tumblr ;p glad to see/read it again here.

    Seeing that picture of him as Atticus brings back memory of reading the book. I think he looks perfect as Atticus (peck with the wrinkles ;) ) If only I can find the movie here.

    i have seen Don’t be afraid of the dark last week…fun ending.

    • You can ask me a question on tumblr, Nov. I know it’s a bit weird that people can’t post a reply like on WordPress or Blogger.

      Ha..ha.. Peck with wrinkles! Too funny! Yes he looked older here, but still HOT imo. And those glasses reminds me of Clark Kent!

      I don’t think I’ll be seeing Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, even the trailer looked too spooky for me.

      • I think Don’t be afraid is not scary at all…they are little monsters not ghost ;)

        I have been long enough in tumblr and still don’t get how to do things around that site.

        Hahaha he will always looks hot to you ;)

  5. Lol Ruth, I’m sure those movies will eventually come to the Uptown Landmark in the coming weeks :)

    This weekend, I watched Crazy Stupid Love which I thought was quite good except for a few missteps such as Steve Carell having a big speech about true love in front of a big crowd which is way over-used and cheesy. Nonetheless, the cast is fantastic and keeps this appealing throughout.

    • Yeah I know Cas, but WHEN??! I’m sick of having to wait WEEKS after other cities have gotten those indie flicks. I do hope they’ll arrive here before the end of the year.

      I might check out CSL, I love Carrell and Emma Stone. Though I know most girls would see this for Gosling’s abs, ahah.

  6. We had to read and watch ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ in high school and I distinctly remember the majority of the class complaining about the film. I did not get to truly enjoy it until later and appreciate its powerful societal impact it must have had when it was released.

    • I can see young kids might find ‘Mockingbird’ a bit tedious, but they might appreciate it later when they rewatch it. The film made me glad things have changed… but still not as much as it should be. Even Peck said in the Special Features, the racial prejudice issue is still very much with us even decades later. Old habits die hard unfortunately.

  7. Wonderful range of movie watching there, Ruth. Glad to see you caught up with and were moved by ‘To Kill A Mocking Bird’. It remains, IMO, the quintessential Gregory Peck film. The courtroom scene with Rev. Sykes telling Scout, “Jean Louise. Jean Louise, stand up. Your father’s passing.”, gets to me every time.

    I would say, though, that ‘Arabesque’ is more ‘Charade’-lite instead of Hitchcock-lite, IMO. Stanley Donen directed both, and it did attempt (but came up short) to re-capture the magic of the Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn pairing in ‘Charade’ from three years earlier. While it does tread material you’d think would Hitch would have used, I like Donen’s approach with actresses better. Just my opinion.

    If you want to continue your Peck Marathon, might I suggest another western? It is the underrated, quiet, and quite noirish ’68 film, ‘The Stalking Moon’. If you need convincing, you might want to check out our friend Livius/Colin (he’s the one that did the splendid review of ‘The Big Country’ you liked a short while back) review from a couple of years back.

    Thanks, Ruth.

    • Yeah I’m glad I finally watched it… so many great, memorable scenes, the one you mentioned is definitely one of them. I love the fact that he didn’t look up at them… Atticus is one of those rare selfless human being the world could use more of.

      I haven’t seen Charade but I heard that Grant felt he was too old for Hepburn at the time. Whilst I never thought Peck was too old for Loren, I mean sure he seemed older but he still got the looks and the charm that made it believable that SHE was the one flirtin’ with him. Oh that scene in the shower is such a hoot!!

      I’m up for another Peck western! I’ll see The Stalking Moon sometime in January, but how about How the West Was Won? Have you seen that? Is that worth buying??

      • Yes, ‘How The West Was Won’ is worth seeing. Originally filmed using the Cinerama process, it is an epic, sprawling western in the old tradition. It used three directors for it episodic story-telling (with John Ford being the most notable among them). And as befits an epic, it’s got a big cast, with Gregory Peck among them. While it’s not in my top ten (more next year concerning that) for westerns, it remains a must see for that genre. HTH.

        • Yeah I like How The West Was Won quite a bit, the Bluray looks stunning. Although you can still see the the lines in the middle of the picture in a few sequences, the picture quality was amazing in HD. I wonder how it was like to have seen it in a true Cinerama theater.

        • Hey Michael, I’ve left a comment on your friend’s post. Looks like he had other reviews of Peck’s Westerns too.

          Cool, so I might check this film too then. I’m just sad that some of his movies like Beloved Infidel and The Macomber Affair are not available on DVD! It’s just atrocious!!

  8. I loved the Bourne series! Definitely agree that each movie held it’s own. There wasn’t a weak link in the series (I think the same of LOTR.). And Franka Potente was great in it! Nice review.

    • Hi Kristin, yeah Bourne & LOTR are both great trilogies. Another one is Toy Story as I like all three movies. Have you seen Run Lola Run? A must for fans of Franka.

    • Yeah, that was great! I knew Duvall’s in this and I kept looking for him but kinda forgot about him towards the end and suddenly, WHOA, there he was!! I love it when a film managed to pull a genuine surprise like that. His expression was just priceless, I heard he actually stayed out of the sun for weeks and died his hair to look like that. Now THAT’s dedication.

  9. I share the same rant as you when it comes to theaters not picking up the “good” movies!

    I wanted to tell you I love the fact that you have picked up an increased love for b&w movies, specifically Gregory Peck ones.To Kill A Mockingbird is an absolute classic! Glad you liked it! It definitely is a major plus of a film.

    • I was tempted to devote an entire rant post but I restrained myself :)

      I am just tickled pink that I’ve found a GOLD MINE in regards to Mr. Peck. At first it was just his looks, I mean he really was THE most beautiful creature God ever created, but fortunately he’s so much more than a pretty face. He really was good in everything I’ve seen him in so far, but ‘Mockingbird’ is his most iconic performance.

  10. Glad to hear your marathon is still going along steadily. I really want to see To Kill a Mockingbird, especially after reading your glowing praise of it. I also may be the last person in the world to have never seen a Bourne film…

    For as much progress as I have made in watching movies this year, I still have a long way to go.

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