Tag: Cold War

MOVIE REVIEW | War Games (1983)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “It’s one of the rare occasions when I think a remake might actually be a good idea.”

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“Goddammit, I’d piss on a spark plug if I thought it’d do any good!”

Movies for tweens and a little older are massive business these days.  Every studio is looking for the next YA series of novels to adapt for the big screen so they can makes Hunger Games money.  And to my out of touch eyes, based purely on their trailers, they all look the same.  It’s some sort of dystopian future or alternate universe, and some normal teenager discovers that they’re not so normal after all.  In the 80s, the word “tween” didn’t exist, not every movie was trying to be a franchise builder and teen adventures were based in more of a reality.  Sure, The Goonies was about kids dodging booby traps to find buried pirate treasure, but it was also about kids from working class families trying to save their homes from bank foreclosure.  And in 1983, even the potential nuclear holocaust was kids’ movie fodder, with War Games.

Thanks to Ronald Regan’s presidency, communist fear is peaking again.  When 22% of nuclear weapon launch officers fail to pull the trigger in a secret test, the powers that be decide humans can’t be trusted with the job anymore.  So they decide to build a computer that will push the button, with no worry of pesky emotions getting in the way. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***FOREIGN LANGUAGER WEEKEND*** Barbara (2012)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “As new as I am to this genre of East side, late Cold War movies, Barbara offered something that the others don’t.”

The main reason I started this blog was to make me watch more movies, and to vary the kinds of movies I watched. The first part of that has been well and truly accomplished with me watching hundreds of movies for the first time, instead of falling back on old favourites over and over again.   But l’m not sure if I’ve varied my selections enough. I still watch mainly American movies, with directors, writers and actors that make them a pretty safe bet. So this year, I’m forcing myself to seek out more international movies. With Foreign Language Weekends, every weekend(ish) during 2016, I’ll review two(ish) non-English language movies.

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“What’s the matter, Doctor?”

Before I started seeking out more international movies for Foreign Language Weekends, I had no idea that the East German, latter days of the Cold War movie existed.  Now, without even trying, I’ve stumbled across a few and loved them all.  It’s such a great setting for storytelling, and every movie so far has taken full advantage of it.  There’s something so fascinating about the 80s, when the Cold War seemed to escalate a little, at the exact same time that it seemed like the Soviet Union’s collapse was increasingly inevitable.

Cold War stories always come with a certain level of paranoia, but these stories, told from the East, where everyone is scrambling to appear loyal, while also figuring out what their place will be when the wall comes down, ramps that paranoia up even more.  So much so, that even a story about doctors in a country hospital is loaded with that stuff in Barbara. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | The Right Stuff (1983)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “Basically a commercial for America.”

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“The first American into space is not going to be a chimpanzee. I want test pilots!”

These days when the Cold War is used as the backdrop for a movie, it generally comes with a healthy level of cynicism.  There are rarely clear cut good guys or bad guys, and the paranoia and corruption of leaders on both sides are fair game.  But in 1983, the Berlin Wall was still up, the USSR was still a thing we were told to be wary of, and America was in the grips of conservative renaissance under the leadership of limited actor and A-grade prick, Ronald Reagan.  In 1983, it was still a time when a movie about the space race was all flag waving, back patting and star spangled.  It was a time when they made movies like The Right Stuff.

After several attempts to break the sound barrier end in fiery explosions, war hero Captain Chuck Yeager (Sam Shepard) steps up to the plate and he gets the job done in 1947.  Over the next few years, Yeager and best friend/rival Scott Crossfield (Scott Wilson) repeatedly beat each other’s air speed records. At first top secret, the government decides to start publishing their efforts as a way of building national morale, and pressuring congress into giving them more money. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***FOREIGN LANGUAGE WEEKEND*** The Lives of Others (2006)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “It’s a rich, fascinating period for storytelling to exploit, which is exactly what I got with The Lives of Others.

 Lives 1
The main reason I started this blog was to make me watch more movies, and to vary the kinds of movies I watched.  The first part of that has been well and truly accomplished with me watching hundreds of movies for the first time, instead of falling back on old favourites over and over again.   But l’m not sure if I’ve varied my selections enough.  I still watch mainly American movies, with directors, writers and actors that make them a pretty safe bet. So this year, I’m forcing myself to seek out more international movies.  With Foreign Language Weekends, every weekend(ish) during 2016, I’ll review two(ish) non-English language movies.

“Do you even know what the Stasi is?”

The cold War will never stop being fascinating to me.  Last year, Spielberg gave us his take on it with Bridge of Spies.  The underseen, under rated and recently cancelled TV show Manhattan may have been set during WWII, but it was fueled by the paranoia of America and England’s uneasy alliance with Russia.  I’m sure there’ll be countless more Cold War based movies made as along as movies are a thing.


But I‘ve recently discovered a sub genre of Cold War stories, those set in the 80s.  The hay day of the 50s and 60s was long gone, but Ronald Regan managed to bring back red panic in a major way.  Right now on TV, The Americans and Deutschland 83 are doing a fantastic job of highlighting those closing days of the Cold War.  It’s a rich, fascinating period for storytelling to exploit, which is exactly what I got with The Lives of Others. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | On the Beach (1959)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “It’s an anti-nuke message that never tries to be subtle about it.”

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“The war started when people accepted the idiotic principle that peace could be maintained by arranging to defend themselves with weapons they couldn’t possibly use without committing suicide.”

Last year, the internet lost its mind because we reached the date that Marty McFly travels to in Back the Future Part II.  While the online obsession was a little bit much, it did make me realise something; I like movies set in the future, where that future has now come and gone.  It’s fascinating to see just how wrong pretty much every single one gets it.  For example, in the 2015 of Back to the Future Part II, there are flying cars, but modern communication still includes dot matrix fax machines.  I didn’t know I was in for a future-that-never-eventuated movie with On the Beach, but I’m happy that’s what I got.


After a third World War in the 50s, the entire northern hemisphere has been decimated by nuclear fallout.  With radiation making the top half of the world unlivable, the last remnants of civilization have found their way to Melbourne, Australia.  It’s now the mid 60s, and after assuming there is no life north of the equator, a Morse code message is picked up, coming from California. (more…)

***2015 RECAP*** MOVIE REVIEW | Bridge Of Spies (2015)

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“My father was beaten, my mother was beaten, and this man, my father’s friend, he was beaten. And I watched this man. Every time they hit him, he stood back up again.”

Before I started writing Bored and Dangerous, I was a little skeptical of Steven Spielberg. I thought he was all style, no substance, and too heavy handed when it came to sentiment and melodramatic overstatement. But in the last two and half years, I’ve written about no less than half a dozen Spielberg movies. And with pretty much each one, I have come to appreciate him more and more. Two years ago, Spielberg’s name wouldn’t have made me excited to see a movie. But a Cold War setting would. And Joel and Ethan Coen’s names on the wiring credits would. And Tom Hanks would. So add all of that together, along with my growing respect for Spielberg, and there’s no way I wasn’t going to see Bridge of Spies.


It’s the late 50s, and American paranoia about the threat of communism is at its peak. So when Soviet spy Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) is discovered living in the States, the trial is big news. Forced to defend Abel is lawyer James Donavan (Hanks). He’s the kind of guy who believes in the purity of the law and that every man deserves a fair trial and fair defense. Even when that man is clearly a spy. But the trial is pretty much just a formality, with the jury quick to find him guilty and a judge ready to give Abel the death penalty. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | The Man From U.N.C.L.E (2015)

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“I was briefed on your criminal career. Your balls are on the end of a very long leash, held by a very short man.”

For a couple of years and a couple of movies, no one did movie cool better than Guy Ritchie. Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels has to be one of the most confident directorial debuts ever made. Then Snatch took that confidence and cool to a bigger, better level. After shitting the bed with Swept Away and Revolver, he had a brief bounce back with RocknRolla, which was OK, but was nothing more than a rehashing of his first two movies. Then, we lost Ritchie to the world of Hollywood franchises as he made two Sherlock Holmes movies. And it seems that big budget, franchise world is where he’s determined to stay, with The Man From U.N.C.L.E.


In cold war Berlin, ex master criminal, current CIA operative Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) undertakes a covert operation into the Russian controlled East Berlin to rescue Gaby (Alicia Vikander).   The daughter of an alleged Nazi scientist who has since started working with the Americans, Gaby could be the key to some bad guys getting their hands on nuclear weapons. Solo’s extraction of Gaby is almost thwarted by KBG agent Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer). So it’s a shock for both men when they find out the next day that they are now partners. The nuclear technology of Gaby’s father is so dangerous and so valuable, the Americans and Russians have decided to team up to protect it. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Bridge Of Spies (2015)

Bridge 1

“My father was beaten, my mother was beaten, and this man, my father’s friend, he was beaten. And I watched this man. Every time they hit him, he stood back up again.”

Before I started writing Bored and Dangerous, I was a little skeptical of Steven Spielberg. I thought he was all style, no substance, and too heavy handed when it came to sentiment and melodramatic overstatement. But in the last two and half years, I’ve written about no less than half a dozen Spielberg movies. And with pretty much each one, I have come to appreciate him more and more. Two years ago, Spielberg’s name wouldn’t have made me excited to see a movie. But a Cold War setting would. And Joel and Ethan Coen’s names on the wiring credits would. And Tom Hanks would. So add all of that together, along with my growing respect for Spielberg, and there’s no way I wasn’t going to see Bridge of Spies.


It’s the late 50s, and American paranoia about the threat of communism is at its peak. So when Soviet spy Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) is discovered living in the States, the trial is big news. Forced to defend Abel is lawyer James Donavan (Hanks). He’s the kind of guy who believes in the purity of the law and that every man deserves a fair trial and fair defense. Even when that man is clearly a spy. But the trial is pretty much just a formality, with the jury quick to find him guilty and a judge ready to give Abel the death penalty. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | A Beautiful Mind (2001)

Beautiful Mind
“I find you attractive. Your aggressive moves toward me… indicate that you feel the same way. But still, ritual requires that we continue with a number of platonic activities… before we have sex. I am proceeding with these activities, but in point of actual fact, all I really want to do is have intercourse with you as soon as possible.”

At the 2002 Oscars, A Beautiful Mind won for Best Picture.   A Beautiful Mind won for Best Director.  A Beautiful Mind won Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress.   A Beautiful Mind was also nominated for Best Actor.  You know what movie seems to have been pretty much forgotten in 2015?   A Beautiful Mind.  It’s not uncommon for the Oscars to get it wrong, but in a year when I don’t think that was necessarily the case, it is rare for a movie so recent and so lauded at the time, to be so un-talked about now.  And now that I have finally seen A Beautiful Mind, I really don’t get that un-talked aboutness.


It’s the late 50s, and maths genius John Nash (Russell Crowe) has scored a spot studying at Princeton.  A little quirky, but not a total nutbar, he spends his time between hanging out with nerdy maths friends, hanging out with his partying room mate (Paul Bettany as Charles), and trying to create his own, original mathematics theories and formulas.  His genius is solidified when he creates a new concept of governing dynamics, initially used to help pick up chicks. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | The Falcon and the Snowman (1985)

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“The moment you accepted money, you became professionals. It’s just beginning.”

The Falcon and the Snowman isn’t a title that conjures up ideas of serious film making, or gritty storytelling.  Maybe I’m just too much of a Burt Reynolds fan, but all my life, it’s always just made me think of Smokey and the Bandit.  So, when I finally decided to watch it, without ever bothering to look into to what it was about, who was in it, or when it was made, I was surprised to discover and 80s made, 70s set, Cold Wear spy thriller starring Sean Penn.  Now that is a description that would have made me watch The Falcon and the Snowman long ago.


Getting a cushie job for a private defense contractor, Christopher (Timothy Hutton) spends his days in an ultra secure office with two other people.  Left to their own devices, that means a lot of day time drinking and not much else.  One day though, Christopher notices a communique come through from the CIA, possibly by mistake.  Highlighting the CIA’s intentions to have the Australian Prime Minister overthrown, Christopher begins to get a little disillusioned with his government.  Being the 70s, the Cold War is still firing on all cylinders.  So disillusionment with the government leads to selling secrets to the Russians. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming (1966)

Russians

“I am sorry to, uh, comply with your statement, but misfortunately, all of the answers to these questions are… yes.”

Carl Reiner was a major collaborator of Mel Brooks’, as well as creating the legendary Dick Van Dyke Show.  Alan Arkin was one of the original members of The Second City, possibly the breeding ground of more legendary comedic actors of the last half century than anywhere else.  They both have amazing credentials and I know for a fact that they have both made me laugh plenty of times in the past.  So when I randomly watched The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming without knowing anything about it, seeing their names in the opening credits made me immediately confident that my gamble with this movie would pay off.


It’s the height of the Cold War and a Russian sub circles the small American island of Gloucester.  When the over eager captain decides to get a closer look at America, he runs the sub aground on a sand bank.  Lt. Rozanov (Arkin) leads a band of men ashore to find a boat that can tow their sub back to sea.  The first house they come across is that of Walt Whittaker (Reiner). (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | The Act of Killing (2013)

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“In 1965, the Indonesian government was overthrown by the military.  Anybody opposed to the military dictatorship could be accused of being a communist: Union members, landless farmers, intellectuals and the ethnic Chinese.  In less that a year, and with the direct aid of western governments, over one million ‘communists’ were murdered.  The army used paramilitaries and gangsters to carry out the killings.  These men have been in power – and have persecuted their opponents – ever since.  When we met the killers, they proudly told us stories about what they did.  To understand why, we asked them to create scenes about the killings in whatever ways they wished.  This film follows that process, and documents its consequences.”

That’s the introduction to The Act of Killing.  It’s pretty dark stuff and even this lack of sugar coating in the opening minutes won’t prepare you for what you’re about to watch with this documentary.

The central figure is ex-killer, current folk hero, Anwar Congo.  He killed upwards of 1,000 people during the 60s “extermination” and the smug prick couldn’t be more proud of himself.  He openly talks about these atrocious acts in front relatives of victims and even in front of his own young grand children.

Always with Congo, is his sidekick and sycophantic lapdog, Herman Koto.  A current paramilitary and stand over man, Koto looks more like a move character than a real person.  He has the perfect look of really dumb and really ruthless.   At one stage he runs for parliament.  Campaigning in a Transformers t-shirt, Herman openly talks about the bribery and corruptions he’s looking forward to if elected.  Sadly, he doesn’t get enough votes.

The core group is rounded out by Adi Zulkadry, a former co-killer with Congo.  Zulkadty is Congo’s opposite in almost every way.  He openly regrets what they did, he recognizes the brain washing propaganda used to justify the those terrible things, he is almost disturbed by the reenactments they participate in.  But at the same time, he doesn’t really show guilt, just cold acceptance.

It’s jarring to hear people in 2013 still talk about communists as the red menace like it’s the height of the Cold War in the 50s or 60s.  It’s also a testament to how completely and thoroughly the propaganda worked in brain washing people like Anwar Congo.

Congo admits to have recurring nightmares about what he’s done, but never seems to acknowledge any guilt.  I don’t think it’s an act either.  I think he really is that self unaware and repressed.  His obliviousness to the magnitude of what he’s done is perfectly summed up when he casually remarks, “For massacres, I usually wore jeans.  For massacres, pants should be thick”.

The Act of Killing is rough going.  Brutal and relentless for over two and half hours, you’re probably not going to be in a great mood when you get to the end.  But with a story like this, not feeling like shit would be a sign of failure on the documentary’s part.

The Act of Killing
Directed By – Joshua Oppenheimer, Christine Cynn