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Category:    Home > Reviews > Thriller > Mystery > Spy > Satire > Breaking The Girls (2011/IFC Midnight/MPI DVD)/The Liquidator (1965/MGM/Warner Archive DVD)

Breaking The Girls (2011/IFC Midnight/MPI DVD)/The Liquidator (1965/MGM/Warner Archive DVD)

Picture: C+ Sound: C+ Extras: C/C- Films: C/C+

PLEASE NOTE: The Liquidator DVD is only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series. All can be ordered from the links below.

Here are two very different thrillers with two unusual results. The one meant to be clever and serious is a mess and the one with some comedy and satire is actually very entertaining if not always great.

Jamie Babbit's Breaking The Girls (2011 and has nothing to do (thankfully with the somewhat similarly titled Red Hot Chili Peppers hit song) that starts with the bizarre conflict between successful student Sara (Agnes Bruckner) and Nina (Kate Leverling), the ex-lover of Sara's new lesbian girlfriend Alex (Madeline Zima) in what plays too often as thought police sex in a familiar formula plot. Sara has a boyfriend as well (X-Men alum Shawn Ashmore, barely used here) as she tries to figure out how far Nine will go next.

However, this turns out to be a bunch of narrative noise to coverup something even more devious, but by the time the screenplay gets to that point, our time has been so wasted and the set ups so condescending and dull that e could care less what happens to anyone here and this makes the 87 minutes seem very long and dragged out. The characters are never too bright either, so you know you are in for a lam time early on and Babbit gets too amused by his lesbian contexts and situations as he did with But I'm A Cheerleader. What is his thing about all lady sex about anyhow? Hmm. Whatever it is, it makes for bad filmmaking.

The Original Theatrical Trailer and Interviews are the only extras.

Then we have Jack Cardiff's The Liquidator (1965), a somewhat comical take on the then-new James Bond films based on the books by future Bond novelist John Gardner (who wrote the first new series in the 1980s) delivering the first (and only) big screen adventure of Boysie Oakes, a spy and assassin for a british outfit trying to stop a robbery plot that has something to do with top secret work and he'll have to dodge bullets while he juggles sexy women to get the job done.

Oakes is played by Rod Taylor from The Time Machine (1960) which is joked about early on here and we get a black and white pre-title sequence where Oakes meets his future boss (Trevor Howard) towards the end of his WWII duty. Richard Williams does the amusing animated credits for this film, which he later did for The Pink Panther series and Lalo Schifrin (who soon would compose the classic Mission: Impossible theme) enlists no less than Shirley Bassey to perform the hilarious title song. Jill St. John is the leading lady looking almost as good here as she would in Diamonds Are Forever and we get a fine supporting cast that includes Wilfrid Hyde-White, David Tomlinson, Eric Sykes, Gabrielle Licudi, John Le Mesurier, Jeremy Lloyd, Ronald Leigh-Hunt and Suzy Kendall.

This is legendary cameraman Cardiff's directing projects and he does a decent job with the Peter Yeldham screenplay and Yeldham has a decent grasp of the genre. Though this is a comical take, it is not Austin Powers overdone and makes for consistent storytelling and some fun moments. Unfortunately, despite all this talent, the adventures of Agent L (as Oakes is also known as) never really becomes its own thing and soon, Matt Helm and Derek Flint would find more success by being more gaudy and funnier. Still, this is worth a look and has enough fun moments you'll want to see at least once.

The Original Theatrical Trailer is sadly the only extra.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Girls is an HD shoot and is fine for what it is, but has limited style, is slightly dark more often than it should be and though competent and professionally done, just does not stay with you. The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Liquidator was processed in MetroColor, but being a British production is slightly darker, yet with almost the same color range and characteristics that the print used here does a pretty good job of showing. Cardiff enlisted Ted Scaife, B.S.C., to be Director of Photography and this was shot in real 35mm anamorphic Panavision, the scope frame of which is used very well here throughout.

Scaife also lensed The Dirty Dozen and Khartoum, so he had a total grasp of what the big screen was, what it mean and knew what to do with it.

The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on Girls is a little on the weak side and between the quiet moments and dialogue-based approach, we get a limited soundfield, so the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Liquidator (which is more active with sound throughout) can actually compete with it, though the Bassey song in the beginning and end are more distorted than they should be for some reason. They ought to be upgraded to stereo whenever this hits Blu-ray.

You can order The Liquidator and many other Warner Archive exclusives at this link:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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