New York Filming Locations: The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

The third Bourne movie ‘Ultimatum‘ also finishes in New York (after stints mainly in London and Tangiers) but concludes the whole story in far more extravagant style than its predecessor. Bourne takes a cab from the airport over Queensboro Bridge (below) on 74 mins and arranges to meet Landy at Tudor City although its just a tactic to distract Vosen and co and break into his safe to get the incriminating Blackbriar information

   

Before you know it Bourne is a few blocks west at Port Authority Parking Lot (above right) where he steals a car from the rooftop which I think is the one seen below right.

 

He is then seen racing down the ramp between West 40th and West 41st Streets at 9th Avenue but without an aerial camera or high vantage point it was pretty difficult to do the screenshot below left justice.

 

The fast-paced chase ends up on South Street which is at the foot of the Manhattan side of Brooklyn Bridge and then its on to one of my favourite Bourne locations.

The training facility of SRD is at 415 East 71st Street which Landy gives to Bourne via coded message. However, this address will not lead you to the place seen in the movie on 68 mins as it was actually filmed outside 60 Lafayette Street with the now-defunct Family Court Building used as the secret Treadstone training place. Naturally fake street signs were used and this location really is a pivotal place in the scheme of things. To quote the main man “This is where it started for me. This is where it ends.”

   

It doesn’t quite end there though as Landy faxes the incriminating evidence on Vosen whilst Bourne encounters Dr Albert Hirsch (Albert Finney) on an upper level and is informed that he volunteered for the programme. Pursued by Vosen and his CIA team he flees to the rooftop which is actually much further uptown at the Hospital for Special Surgery on 535 East 70th Street. Bourne is first confronted on the roof by Paz and after an emotional exchange of words he runs to jump off the roof and as he does so Vosen appears and shoots at him as he plunges into the East River below. A spectacular end brings the Bourne story full circle in terms of him starting in the water in ‘Identity‘ and finishing in it in ‘Ultimatum‘…….until ‘The Bourne Legacy‘ decided to continue the story!! I have never failed to get a shiver down my spine as I see Nicky (Julia Stiles) watching the TV news report about the exposure of Operation Blackbriar in the films closing moments.

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New York Filming Locations: The Bourne Supremacy (2004)

“Get some rest Pam, you look tired” are the final words uttered over the phone by Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) on 100 minutes to Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) before Moby’s theme tune kicks in and he is seen walking away from the building where he had been spying on her from. Although the majority of ’The Bourne Supremacy‘ was shot in Berlin which I covered in this entry the second film in the saga ends in New York City. The building below is located on 202 East 48th Street at 3rd Avenue and it was raining quite badly when I went there on my final day in the city.

     

New York Filming Locations: Breakfast At Tiffany’s (1961)

The image of Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) in her black evening gown and sunglasses with a pearl necklace around her neck and a coffee and croissant in her hand is an iconic one. In the early moments of ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s‘ we see her get out of a yellow cab as the morning light breaks and gaze up at the Tiffany & Co. sign of the famous jewellery store. Its address is 727 5th Avenue at 57th Street and I tried my best to replicate the screenshot.

 

A couple of days later I went to see Golightly’s apartment building at 169 East 71st Street which may be missing the green and white striped awning but is still recognisable enough. This apartment was the place where we saw Mickey Rooney portray the Japanese landlord Mr Yunioshi in an era when you could get away with such a thing. This is also the apartment where Golightly meets new tenant Paul Varjak played by George Peppard who may have made his name in this role but of course is known to people of my age as the cigar chomping leader Col. John “Hannibal” Smith of ‘The A-Team‘.

 

When Holly and Paul spend a day together daring each other to experiment with new things he takes her to the New York Public Library on 5th Avenue at 42nd Street which is 15 blocks away from the famed jeweller Tiffany’s. America’s second largest public library has also featured in many other films and will certainly appear again in some of my other ‘New York Filming Locations’ articles.

TF Musical Review: ‘Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark’ Musical

Can’t say I have ever had any desire to see a musical but as I was in New York I thought that attending one was something I should do and for me there was only one choice; Spider-Man the musical. This wasn’t just down to my recently heightened interest in the franchise due to the new film (and my re-watching of the three films from the 2000′s in advance of that) but also because the score was done by Bono and The Edge from one of my favourite bands U2.

 

Rina came along with me to this (the photos above were actually taken a couple of days after we saw it when this area was swarming with people waiting eagerly to get into the theatre) and we had to queue up in the scorching sun on Times Square from 11am for tickets for the afternoon matinee performance. It took about 40 minutes to line-up which wasn’t too bad given the length of people waiting for all number of shows. We were so relieved to get tickets once we got to the window that we didn’t really notice that we had just coughed up $101 each for our tickets which were discounted  but still way more than we had expected to pay.

 

After a huge Vietnamese lunch at ‘Saigon Grill’ which was one of Rina’s old haunts (she lived and studied in NYC for 5 years a few years back) we returned to 42nd Street where I had a brief encounter with acting legend Morgan Freeman. Foxwoods Theatre is where you can see eight performances a week of the show which is in two parts of about 75 minutes each. A bit too long for me yes but I guess it all meant value for money!

The show has been through it all really suffering bad publicity and scathingly negative reviews but its popularity with the public hasn’t been in too much doubt as its now in its second smash year and the place was packed full.

 

Maybe I’m like a kid as I loved all the swinging about over the crowd including the finale battle with The Goblin. I have to say that I was impressed with the overall way in which they brought the superhero to stage particularly the use of spiderwebs (basically, something similar to one of those popper things you may use at a wedding party!) and took an interest in the smooth way in which the set changes took place. However, ‘Turn Off The Dark’ certainly hasn’t turned me on to become a more regular theatre-goer if even to go ever again. I haven’t seen such a similar spectacle since I was a child, and though I don’t mind live acting on-stage, I’m certainly no fan of the stars suddenly breaking into song. I’m glad I went but I think I’ll stick to the big screen instead.

TF Film Review: The Bourne Legacy (2012)

So the Bourne franchise continues without the main man himself and the big question is whether or not Jeremy Renner can fill Matt Damon’s shoes! The tagline for this film is ‘there was never just one’ which does sound good and all that whilst at the same time making me smirk in a ‘you really must be kidding’ type way.

 

This film is a completely new story and nothing to do with the Eric Van Lustbader book of the same name which I read a few years ago. Compared to the original trilogy I think this one starts quite slowly but once it got into its stride it was typical Bourne action with the Manila scenes being the most action-packed albeit similar to what we have seen by way of the rooftop and motorcycle chases which were a part of ‘The Bourne Ultimatum‘ Tangiers package.

Many of the cast from that last film are back if you believe the exciting trailers for the film but in reality its just a very clever edit and marketing ploy to get fans to return to the cinema as Pamela Landy (Joan Cusack), Noah Vossen (David Strathaim) and Dr Albert Hirsch (Albert Finney) roles are more of the cameo variety. The story is centred around Jeremy Renner’s character Aaron Cross and Dr Marta Shearing (played by Rachel Weisz) amid a plot which isn’t exactly easy to follow. The story pretty much begins as ‘Ultimatum’ ended which may sound difficult given how well that went full circle with Bourne starting and ending in the water as the story pretty much closed.

The Bourne Legacy‘ deals with the fall out after Bourne’s exposure of ‘Operation Blackbriar’ and the Department of Defence is trying to cover up their black-ops ‘Outcome’ program which is an offshoot of both ‘Treadstone’ and ‘Blackbriar’. However, it is a bit different as they are using science to provide their agents with green pills to enhance physical abilities and blue pills to enhance mental abilities and for some reason which I forget this is how the two main stars meet up in this film.

It’s pretty sad to go to the cinema pretty much on arrival in a different country but that is what I did today when I saw this somewhere on 42nd Street here in New York which by chance is also where some of the film was set. I will have to see if I can track some of them down! Other locations used include Calgary in Canada, Seoul in South Korea and Manila and El Nido in the Philippines with the latter being music to my ears as I’ve already been there and got the necessary shots!

As a stand-alone trilogy I don’t think the one’s actually featuring Jason Bourne can be beaten and whilst Renner and Weisz do put in very good performances their characters are lacking the interest and complexity of the main man. They’re also fighting against a pretty desperate script and this sequel (extension?) of the Bourne series is quite ok as a stand-alone thriller if you’ve not seen the previous three but as no-one at all is likely to be in that category of viewers it doesn’t add anything much and really has no reason to exist.

Tokyo Fox Rating 7/10

‘Star Wars: In Concert’ Live In Tokyo

After successfully touring North America and Europe over the last couple of years the ‘Star Wars: In Concert‘ team finally rolled into Tokyo town last night to play a set of dates to the Japanese fans at Tokyo International Forum in Yurakucho.

My friend David (a.k.a. ‘the べすとーkid’) and I arrived well ahead of its 7 o’clock start and the place was already busy with a massive queue for the merchandise store and a few photo opportunities with a load of stormtroopers and clone troopers. There were also a big group of cosplayers (Vader, Stormtroopers, Emperor Paplatine, Royal Guard etc) but the crowds and lines for photos among them was way too much effort, especially for someone like me who has seen and done it all before at ‘Star Wars Celebration Japanback in 2008.

   

The show really draws on John Williams’ scores from the series and this is what really gives the saga its lungs. I can’t say I noticed the soundtrack on my first viewing of the original trilogy in the early-mid 80′s but that sure changed when I re-watched them on rental video back in the mid 90′s. This show wasn’t in chronological order but was laid out by way of different themes exploring the relationship of characters such as Luke and Leia and the power of the force.

Following the THX sound theme and the 20th Century Fox fanfare the main Star Wars theme kicked in with dazzling montages of re-edited scenes from all six films on the enormous screens with laser lighting and even fireballs at one point. Having been watching the video clips it actually took me a few moments to realise that the music was of course all being played live and therein lies the problem for me as it was so perfectly close to what you hear in the films that I did feel I was just watching an assembly of different themed video edits.

The man introducing each musical passage on-stage was non other than C3P0 actor Anthony Daniels and boy did he milk the applause particularly at the end where the scheduled encore of the ‘Imperial March’ led to such rapturous applause from the crowd that they (supposedly) did something they’ve never done and played one more tune which had the conductor Mark Watters flicking through his music trying to decide what the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra would finally finish the nights proceedings with. I particularly enjoyed the encores as they were free of film scenes and we actually got to see the musicians at work on the big screen which was much needed as we were sat on the second last row high up in the stands. Being able to concentrate on different instruments such as the harp and the grand piano and how they weaved in to the score was interesting to see.

Ultimately though I don’t really feel it was worth the 8800 yen for the ticket which was the most expensive one. ‘The べすとーkid’ said our seats at the back were probably more expensive due to the sound being better and that was probably true but it probably didn’t justify our outlay in costs. Oh well, its only money and I am glad that I did go of course and it was a delight to see the two kids in front of us really enjoy the occasion.

Setlist:

Part I: THX Crescendo/20th Century Fox Fanfare/Main Title/Blockade Runner; Duel of the Fates; Anakin’s Theme; The Dune Sea of Tatooine/Jawa Sandcrawler; The Flag Parade; Across the Stars; Battle of the Heroes; The Imperial March.

Part II: Asteroid Field; Leia’s Theme; Tales of a Jedi Knight/Cantina Band; Yoda’s Theme; Tie Fighter Attack; Luke & Leia; Forest Battle; Light of the Force; Throne Room/End Credits

Encore: The Imperial March

Bonus Encore: Throne Room/End Credits

Review: Films Set In Japan – ‘Tora! Tora! Tora!’ (1970)

On the morning of Sunday 7th December 1941 Japan attacked and partially destroyed the American Pacific Fleet which resulted in the United States entering WWII. Of course no review of this film can ever be complete without mentioning the commercial flop that was ‘Pearl Harbor‘ some 31 years after this one was released. Unlike that Hollywood version there are no side stories here and it just concentrates on the hard facts without need for sensationalistic actions and words or a fictionalised romance taking place at the same time.

 

The first strikingly novel thing about this film is that on-screen captions are used to introduce important new characters each time with their position shown underneath their name. There are no made up characters, plot lines or melodrama. Its the real deal depicting the story of the men whose decisions and actions led to a date which will live in infamy. Of course that means there’s very little in the way of surprise and there’s an inevitability as almost everyone knows how it ends.

However, ‘Tora! Tora! Tora!‘ shows that the events leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor are just as important as the attack itself. You can’t have the latter without the former but the buildup to the real action on the day of the attack is over one hundred minutes into the film which is some wait and I did feel it dragging a bit too much. Of course its a history film and documents the Pearl Harbor story well as it has an awful lot of information to get across which it supposedly does very accurately showing both sides of the story but that also means the same information is often repeated.

You could say that this film is two films in one with different writers, directors, cinematographers and so on but thankfully they blend together far smoother than I imagined they would. They proceed in parallel fashion before reaching their destiny in the skies above Hawaii on December 7th which, due to the time difference, was actually the 8th in Japan. Japanese characters even refer to this date though its translated as the 7th on the DVD to not confuse Americans.

There are no good or bad guys and we rarely see any intense passion from the cast which was an ok, but rather unremarkable, assembly of American and Japanese actors with no real stars or heroes. I just can’t help thinking that the title needed three exclamation marks to bring some attention to it! Sarcasm aside I guess it’s the story which is the star and it’s the plot which drives the movie forward (eventually!) and there’s nothing wrong with that but this type of film is really not for me which I’m kind of embarrassed about given the importance and significance of the story.

Tokyo Fox Rating 5/10