TV Review: CRACKER: ONE DAY A LEMMING WILL FLY (1993)

Image result for CRACKER: ONE DAY A LEMMING WILL FLYCRACKER: ONE DAY A LEMMING WILL FLY (TV) (UK, 1993) ****
      Distributor: ITV – Independent Television; Production Company: A&E Television Networks / Granada Television; Release Date: 1 & 8 November 1993; Running Time: 97m; Colour: Colour; Sound Mix: Dolby Stereo; Film Format: 16mm; Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1; BBFC Cert: 18.
      Director: Simon Cellan Jones; Writer: Jimmy McGovern; Executive Producer: Sally Head; Producer: Gub Neal; Director of Photography: Ivan Strasburg; Music Composer: Roger Jackson; Film Editor: Chris Gill; Casting Director: Gail Stevens; Production Designer: Chris Wilkinson; Art Director: Deborah Morley.
      Cast: Robbie Coltrane (Fitz), Barbara Flynn (Judith Fitzgerald), Christopher Eccleston (D.C.I. Bilborough), Geraldine Somerville (D.S. Penhaligon), Lorcan Cranitch (D.S. Beck), Christopher Fulford (Cassidy), Lee Hartney (Andy Lang), Frances Tomelty (Mrs. Lang), Tim Healy (Mr Lang), Amelia Bullmore (Catriona Bilborough), Kieran O’Brien (Mark Fitzgerald), Tess Thomson (Kate Fitzgerald), Geoffrey Hutchings (Pathologist), John Vine (Lindsay), Trevyn McDowell (Leslie), Edward Peel (Chief Super), Wesley Cook (Tim Lang), Linda Henry (Mrs Perry), John Graham-Davies (Francis Bates).
      Synopsis: A young boy, Timothy Lang, is found hanged in a nearby wood, drawing the ire of the city, and the main suspect appears to be Tim’s school teacher, Mr. Cassidy.
      Comment: Third and final story from the first season amounts to a psychological battle of will between accused, the law and Coltrane’s psychologist. This is another dark tale and the ambiguity surrounding the accused man’s guilt or innocence presents a conundrum for Fitz. McGovern deftly sets about the psychological conflict keeping the viewer guessing right to the story’s conclusion and likely beyond. Again, the performances are top-draw with a rich cast headed by Coltrane. Fitz’s flawed character gives Coltrane plenty to work with and his performance has depth and is laced with humour and cynicism.

TV Review – CRACKER: TO SAY I LOVE YOU (1993)

Image result for cracker to say i love youCRACKER: TO SAY I LOVE YOU (TV) (UK, 1993) ****
      Distributor: ITV – Independent Television; Production Company: A&E Television Networks / Granada Television; Release Date: 11, 18 & 25 October 1993; Running Time: 153m; Colour: Colour; Sound Mix: Dolby Stereo; Film Format: 16mm; Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1; BBFC Cert: 18.
      Director: Andy Wilson; Writer: Jimmy McGovern; Executive Producer: Sally Head; Producer: Gub Neal; Director of Photography: Ivan Strasburg; Music Composer: Roger Jackson; Film Editor: Oral Norrie Ottey; Casting Director: Gail Stevens; Production Designer: Chris Wilkinson; Art Director: Deborah Morley; Costumes: Janty Yates; Make-up: Helen King; Sound: Phil Smith.
      Cast: Robbie Coltrane (Fitz), Barbara Flynn (Judith Fitzgerald), Christopher Eccleston (D.C.I. Bilborough), Geraldine Somerville (D.S. Penhaligon), Lorcan Cranitch (D.S. Beck), Susan Lynch (Tina Brien), Andrew Tiernan (Sean Kerrigan), Beryl Reid (Fitz’s mother), David Haig (Graham), Susan Vidler (Sammy), Tim Barlow (Judith’s father).Kieran O’Brien (Mark Fitzgerald), Ian Mercer (D.C. Giggs), Patti Love (Mrs Brien), Keith Ladd (Mr Brien), Tess Thomson (Katie Fitzgerald).
      Synopsis: Sean Kerrigan and Tina Brien, two of society’s rejects, are drawn together and will do anything to stay together forever, even murder. Fitz is drawn into the conflict when he begins to uncover the murder of Tina’s loan shark.
      Comment: Second story in the first season of Cracker is a dark and violent take on film noir and Bonnie & Clyde. It is another absorbing story with a superb Jimmy McGovern script and fantastic performances from the cast. Of specific note are Lynch and Tiernan as the unlikely criminal pairing. The set pieces are directed with a strong sense of authenticity by Wilson and Coltrane brings his flawed and intelligent character to life with a central performance that dominates whenever he is on screen and is laced with caustic humour. The production only slows in its final protracted act before it picks up again for its explosive finale.

TV Review – BERGERAC: PICKING IT UP (1981)

Bergerac series 1BERGERAC: PICKING IT UP (UK, 1981) ***½
      Distributor: British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC); Production Company: British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) / Seven Network; Release Date: 18 October 1981; Running Time: 57m; Colour: Colour; Sound Mix: Dolby; Film Format: 16mm; Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1; BBFC Cert: PG.
      Director: Martyn Friend; Writer: Robert Banks Stewart; Producer: Robert Banks Stewart; Associate Producer: Juliet Grimm; Director of Photography: Ian Hilton; Music Composer: George Fenton; Themes Music: George Fenton; Film Editor: Bernard Ashby, Chris Wimble; Production Designer: Antony Thorpe; Costumes: Pat Fisher; Make-up: Cheryl Wright; Sound: Bryan Showell.
      Cast: John Nettles (Jim Bergerac), Cécile Paoli (Francine), Terence Alexander (Hungerford), Sean Arnold (Crozier), Annette Badland (Charlotte), Mela White (Diamante Lil), Danny Schiller (Gulliver), Tony Melody (Chief), Raymond Adamson (Senator), Deborah Grant (Deborah), Lindsay Heath (Kim), David Savile (Gurney), Floella Benjamin (Juniper), Alan Thompson (Mr. Pollender), Elizabeth Choice (Mrs. Pollender), Judith Byfield (Mary Pollender), James Greene (Alcoholic), Roland Oliver (Flying Instructor), Lesley Murray (Hire-Car Receptionist), Michael Chesden (French Inspector), Stephen Bent (CID Man), Graeme Eton (Airport Sergeant), Michael Bott (Constable), Sally Harrison (Air Stewardess), Harry South (Nightclub Pianist), Brian Tully (Vicar), Lindsay Campbell (Chairman), Carole Walker (Theatre Sister), Sandra Miller (Nurse), Harold Messias (Asian), Frank Tregear (Businessman).
      Synopsis: Jersey detective Jim Bergerac returns from a recuperation leave to find his job in jeopardy and a colleague killed during an investigation into international gun sales to South Africa.
      Comment: The first episode of the long-running series (1981-91, nine seasons, 87 episodes) introduces us to Jim Bergerac – a police detective and recovering alcoholic. The key series elements are all set here including Bergerac’s caustic relationship with his ex-father-in-law, millionaire Charlie Hungerford, played in the early episodes in a more hard-nosed fashion by Alexander. The plot suffers a little from having to compete with the need to set up key series characters, but it maintains interest. Whilst Nettles may initially seem a little too clean-cut for the character, he would stamp his personality onto the role over the coming years. The Jersey locations are well used. Look out for Floella Benjamin as an American singer (dubbed here) who has got mixed up with the wrong crowd.

TV Review – CRACKER: MAD WOMAN IN THE ATTIC (1993)

Image result for cracker mad woman in the atticCRACKER: MAD WOMAN IN THE ATTIC (TV) (UK, 1993) ****
      Distributor: ITV – Independent Television; Production Company: A&E Television Networks / Granada Television; Release Date: 27 September & 4 October 1993; Running Time: 103m; Colour: Colour; Sound Mix: Dolby Stereo; Film Format: 16mm; Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1; BBFC Cert: 18.
      Director: Michael Winterbottom; Writer: Jimmy McGovern; Executive Producer: Sally Head; Producer: Gub Neal; Director of Photography: Ivan Strasburg; Music Composer: Julian Wastall; Film Editor: Trevor Waite; Casting Director: Gail Stevens; Production Designer: Chris Wilkinson; Art Director: Deborah Morley; Set Decorator: ; Costumes: Janty Yates; Make-up: Helen King; Sound: Phil Smith.
      Cast: Robbie Coltrane (Fitz), Barbara Flynn (Judith Fitzgerald), Christopher Eccleston (D.C.I. Bilborough), Geraldine Somerville (D.S. Penhaligon), Lorcan Cranitch (D.S. Beck), Adrian Dunbar (Kelly), Nicholas Woodeson (Hennessy), Kieran O’Brien (Mark), Don Henderson (Hennessy Senior), Seamus O’Neill (D.C. Jones), Ian Mercer (D.C. Giggs), Paul Copley (Pathologist), Alan Partington (Mr Hobbs), Romy Baskerville (Irene Hobbs), Daryl Fishwick (Mrs Forbes), Kika Markham (Ann Appleby), John Grillo (Simon Appleby), Edward Peel (Chief Super), David Crellin (Quinlan), Andrew Brittain (Presenter), Diane Adderley (Mrs Royle).
      Synopsis: A young woman is brutally murdered on a train, the victim of a serial killer. The prime suspect is an amnesiac man, who cannot confess to the crime if he cannot remember committing it unless a troubled psychologist can crack him.
      Comment: The premiere episode of the Cracker TV series (1993-6) introduces us to Coltrane’s dynamite performance as the flawed psychologist, addicted to gambling and booze, and lays the template for a series that would reach new highs for crime TV in the UK. Fitz is such a compelling character he threatens to dwarf all around him. Fortunately, a very strong support cast is also on hand and Winterbottom’s inventive direction gets the best out of them. The story is intriguing as a ‘did he or didn’t he do it’ and that it succeeds in keeping you guessing for so long is down to McGovern’s strong script and a good supporting performance from Dunbar as the amnesiac suspect. Often a tough watch, this is never less than engrossing and is only let down by the rushed finale. Better was to follow, but this is still a great introduction.

Book Review – UP: MY LIFE’S JOURNEY TO THE TOP OF EVEREST by Ben Fogle (2018)

UP: MY LIFE’S JOURNEY TO THE TOP OF EVEREST (2018) ****
by Ben Fogle (& Marina Fogle)
First published by William Collins, 2018, 270pp
ISBN: 978-0-00-831922-9

Blurb: In April 2018, seasoned adventurer Ben Fogle and Olympic cycling gold medallist Victoria Pendleton, along with mountaineer Kenton Cool, took on their most exhausting challenge yet – climbing Everest for the British Red Cross to highlight the environmental challenges mountains face. It would be harrowing and exhilarating in equal measure as they walked the fine line between life and death 8,000 metres above sea level. For Ben, the seven-week expedition into the death zone was to become the adventure of a lifetime, as well as a humbling and enlightening journey. For his wife Marina, holding the family together at home, it was an agonising wait for news. Together, they dedicated the experience to their son, Willem Fogle, stillborn at eight months. Cradling little Willem to say goodbye, Ben and Marina made a promise to live brightly. To embrace every day. To always smile. To be positive and to inspire. And from the depths of their grief and dedication, Ben’s Everest dream was born. Up, from here the only way was Up. Part memoir, part thrilling adventure, Ben and Marina’s account of his ascent to the roof of the world is told with their signature humour and warmth, as well as with profound compassion.

Ben Fogle’s book is part-journal and part-philosophical statement. Fogle’s crave for adventure stems from a childhood of insecurity and it is his approach to life and his willingness to challenge himself that shines through. Everest is both a physical and metaphorical mountain to summit and it is interesting to contrast the drive and ambition that takes Fogle on his journey against the come-down after he has achieved his goal, the latter covered all too briefly. Fogle eloquently makes the point that life needs to be a series of goals and challenges and not just an individual one. His positive outlook is mirrored by the book’s title. Look up rather than down, keep cheallnging yourself to get better, chase your dreams. Fogle’s writing is complemented by that of Marina, his wife who gives the perspective of the spouse and family left behind to worry, whilst her husband chases his dreams in the most dangerous of locations. Marina’s spirit and selflessness shines even more brightly than that of her husband and enables us to contrast the routine of everyday life with the bold adventure of the expedition. Fogle’s travelling companions were experienced climber Kenton Cool and Olympic cycling gold medallist Victoria Pendleton. Victoria’s struggles with altitude sickness on the trip are well documented and ultimately caused her to abort her climb. Fogle went on to fulfil his dream and reach the top and he vividly documents the struggles of doing so, outlining the chaos on the mountain as dozens of climbers from various expeditions scramble for position. Whilst Fogle may tend to over-play his philosophy on life at the expense of the drama of the climb, often repeating  anbd sometimes labouring the same point, his book remains a fascinating insight into why adventurers test themselves to the limit.

Film Review – GOODFELLAS (1990)

Image result for goodfellas 1990GOODFELLAS (USA, 1990) ****½
      Distributor: Warner Bros.; Production Company: Warner Bros; Release Date: 17 September 1990 (USA), 26 October 1990 (UK); Filming Dates: 3 May 1989 – 9 August 1989; Running Time: 146m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Dolby SR; Film Format: 35mm (Eastman 5384); Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: 18.
      Director: Martin Scorsese; Writer: Nicholas Pileggi, Martin Scorsese (based on the book “Wiseguy” by Nicholas Pileggi); Executive Producer: Barbara De Fina; Producer: Irwin Winkler; Associate Producer: Bruce S. Pustin; Director of Photography: Michael Ballhaus; Music Editor: Christopher Brooks; Film Editor: James Y. Kwei, Thelma Schoonmaker; Casting Director: Ellen Lewis; Production Designer: Kristi Zea; Art Director: Maher Ahmad; Set Decorator: Leslie Bloom; Costumes: Richard Bruno; Make-up: Carl Fullerton, Ilona Herman, Allen Weisinger; Sound: Skip Lievsay; Special Effects: Connie Brink.
      Cast: Robert De Niro (James Conway), Ray Liotta (Henry Hill), Joe Pesci (Tommy DeVito), Lorraine Bracco (Karen Hill), Paul Sorvino (Paul Cicero), Frank Sivero (Frankie Carbone), Tony Darrow (Sonny Bunz), Mike Starr (Frenchy), Frank Vincent (Billy Batts), Chuck Low (Morris Kessler), Frank DiLeo (Tuddy Cicero), Henny Youngman (Henny Youngman), Gina Mastrogiacomo (Janice Rossi), Catherine Scorsese (Tommy’s Mother), Charles Scorsese (Vinnie), Suzanne Shepherd (Karen’s Mother), Debi Mazar (Sandy), Margo Winkler (Belle Kessler), Welker White (Lois Byrd), Jerry Vale (Jerry Vale), Julie Garfield (Mickey Conway), Christopher Serrone (Young Henry), Elaine Kagan (Henry’s Mother), Beau Starr (Henry’s Father), Kevin Corrigan (Michael Hill), Michael Imperioli (Spider), Robbie Vinton (Bobby Vinton), Johnny Williams (Johnny Roastbeef), Daniel P. Conte (Dr. Dan), Tony Conforti (Tony), Frank Pellegrino (Johnny Dio), Ronald Maccone (Ronnie), Tony Sirico (Tony Stacks), Joseph D’Onofrio (Young Tommy), Steve Forleo (City Detective #1), Richard Dioguardi (City Detective #2), Frank Adonis (Anthony Stabile), John Manca (Nickey Eyes), Joseph Bono (Mikey Franzese), Katherine Wallach (Diane), Mark Evan Jacobs (Bruce), Angela Pietropinto (Cicero’s Wife), Marianne Leone (Tuddy’s Wife), Marie Michaels (Mrs. Carbone), LoNardo (Frenchy’s Wife), Melissa Prophet (Angie), Illeana Douglas (Rosie), Susan Varon (Susan), Elizabeth Whitcraft (Tommy’s Girlfriend at Copa), Clem Caserta (Joe Buddha), Samuel L. Jackson (Stacks Edwards), Fran McGee (Johnny Roastbeef’s Wife), Paul Herman (Dealer), Edward McDonald (Edward McDonald), Edward Hayes (Defense Attorney), Bo Dietl (Arresting Narc).
      Synopsis: Henry Hill and his friends work their way up through the mob hierarchy.
      Comment: Stylish adaptation of Pileggi’s book about real-life gangster Henry Hill. Scorcese extracts dark humour from the violent drama and moves the story along in expert fashion assisted by editors Kwei and Schoonmaker. DeNiro, Liotta and Pesci each give exceptional performances as the Goodfellas of the title trying to find their own way in a world of organised crime. The inevitable descent into mistrust and retribution is brilliantly handled.
      Notes: Pesci won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar.

Film Review – COLD PURSUIT (2019)

Image result for cold pursuit 2019COLD PURSUIT (USA, 2019) ***½
      Distributor: Lionsgate (USA), StudioCanal (UK); Production Company: StudioCanal / Paradox Films; Release Date: 8 February 2019 (USA), 22 February 2019 (UK); Filming Dates: March 2017; Running Time: 119m; Colour: Colour; Sound Mix: Dolby Digital (7.1 surround); Film Format: D-Cinema; Film Process: Digital Intermediate (4K) (master format); Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1; BBFC Cert: 15 – strong violence.
      Director: Hans Petter Moland; Writer: Frank Baldwin (based on a screenplay by Kim Fupz Aakeson); Executive Producer: Michael Dreyer, Shana Eddy-Grouf, Ron Halpern, Didier Lupfer, Paul Schwartzman; Producer: Finn Gjerdrum, Stein B. Kvae, Michael Shamberg, Ameet Shukla; Associate Producer: Nicolai Moland; Director of Photography: Philip Øgaard; Music Composer: George Fenton; Film Editor: Nicolaj Monberg; Casting Director: Avy Kaufman; Production Designer: Jørgen Stangebye Larsen; Art Director: Kendelle Elliott; Set Decorator: Peter Lando; Costumes: Anne Pedersen; Make-up: Krista Young; Sound: James Boyle; Special Effects: Jason Paradis; Visual Effects: Jan Guilfoyle, Martin Lake, Noga Alon Stein.
      Cast: Liam Neeson (Nels Coxman), Laura Dern (Grace Coxman), Micheál Richardson (Kyle Coxman), Michael Eklund (Speedo), Bradley Stryker (Limbo), Wesley MacInnes (Dante), Tom Bateman (Trevor ‘Viking’ Calcote), Domenick Lombardozzi (Mustang), Nicholas Holmes (Ryan), Jim Shield (Jaded Coroner), Aleks Paunovic (Detective Osgard), Glenn Ennis (Night Club Bouncer), Benjamin Hollingsworth (Dexter), John Doman (John ‘Gip’ Gipsky), Emmy Rossum (Kim Dash), Chris W. Cook (Ski Bum), Venus Terzo (Mother), Dani Alvarado (Daughter), Julia Jones (Aya), Michael Adamthwaite (Santa), William Forsythe (Brock), Elizabeth Thai (Ahn), David O’Hara (Sly), Gus Halper (Bone), Elysia Rotaru (Diner Waitress), Kyle Nobess (Simon Legrew), Victor Zinck Jr. (Drunken Ski Dude), Raoul Max Trujillo (Thorpe), Nathaniel Arcand (Smoke), Glen Gould (War Dog), Mitchell Saddleback (Avalanche), Christopher Logan (Shiv), Tom Jackson (White Bull), Bart Anderson (Blizzard Bartender), Gary Sekhon (Denver Cabbie), Arnold Pinnock (The Eskimo), Ben Cotton (Windex), Emily Maddison (Gorgeous Woman), Glenn Wrage (Kurt), Michael Bean (Parson), Ben Sullivan (Teen), Travis MacDonald (Ski Lift Attendant), Manna Nichols (Minya), Loretta Walsh (Resort Clerk), Nels Lennarson (Chuck Schalm), Max Montesi (Paragliding Instructor), Peter Strand Rumpel (Viking’s Thug).
      Synopsis: A grieving snowplough driver seeks out revenge against the drug dealers who killed his son.
      Comment: Darkly comic thriller has much to commend it as Neeson plays it straight against a quirky cast of characters. The extreme violence is delivered via a series of well-shot action sequences. Where the story falls down is in not seeing through some of the elements of its plot – the relationship between Neeson and his wife Dern is not fully resolved and the theme of father-son relationships heavily hinted at across a number of the core characters is not fully explored. What remains is an entertaining and stylish story that only scratches at the surface of its potential.
      Notes: Based on the 2014 Norwegian film IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE.

Film Review – THE GODFATHER: PART III (1990)

Image result for the godfather part iiiTHE GODFATHER: PART III (USA, 1990) ***½
      Distributor: Paramount Pictures (USA), United International Pictures (UIP) (UK); Production Company: Paramount Pictures / Zoetrope Studios; Release Date: 12 December 1990 (USA), 8 March 1991 (UK); Filming Dates: 27 November 1989 – 25 May 1990; Running Time: 162m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: 70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints) | Dolby SR (35 mm prints); Film Format: 35mm (spherical) (Eastman 5384), 70mm (blow-up) (Eastman 5384); Film Process: Super 35; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Francis Ford Coppola; Writer: Francis Ford Coppola, Mario Puzo; Executive Producer: Fred Fuchs, Nicholas Gage; Producer: Francis Ford Coppola; Associate Producer: Marina Gefter; Director of Photography: Gordon Willis; Music Composer: Carmine Coppola; Music Supervisor: Stephan R. Goldman; Film Editor: Lisa Fruchtman, Barry Malkin, Walter Murch; Casting Director: Janet Hirshenson, Jane Jenkins, Roger Mussenden; Production Designer: Dean Tavoularis; Art Director: Alex Tavoularis; Costumes: Milena Canonero; Make-up: Fabrizio Sforza; Sound: Gloria S. Borders; Special Effects: R. Bruce Steinheimer.
      Cast: Al Pacino (Don Michael Corleone), Diane Keaton (Kay Adams Michelson), Talia Shire (Connie Corleone Rizzi), Andy Garcia (Vincent Mancini), Eli Wallach (Don Altobello), Joe Mantegna (Joey Zasa), George Hamilton (B.J. Harrison), Bridget Fonda (Grace Hamilton), Sofia Coppola (Mary Corleone), Raf Vallone (Cardinal Lamberto), Franc D’Ambrosio (Anthony Vito Corleone), Donal Donnelly (Archbishop Gilday), Richard Bright (Al Neri), Helmut Berger (Frederick Keinszig), Don Novello (Dominic Abbandando), John Savage (Father Andrew Hagen), Franco Citti (Calo), Mario Donatone (Mosca), Vittorio Duse (Don Tommasino), Enzo Robutti (Don Licio Lucchesi), Michele Russo (Spara), Al Martino (Johnny Fontane), Robert Cicchini (Lou Pennino), Rogerio Miranda (Twin Bodyguard Armand), Carlos Miranda (Twin Bodyguard Francesco), Vito Antuofermo (Anthony ‘The Ant’ Squigliaro), Robert Vento (Father John), Willie Brown (Party Politician), Jeannie Linero (Lucy Mancini), Jeanne Savarino Pesch (Francesca Corleone), Janet Savarino Smith (Kathryn Corleone), Tere Livrano (Teresa Hagen), Carmine Caridi (Albert Volpe), Don Costello (Frank Romano), Al Ruscio (Leo Cuneo), Mickey Knox (Marty Parisi), Rick Aviles (Mask #1), Michael Bowen (Mask #2), Brett Halsey (Douglas Michelson), Gabriele Torrei (Enzo the Baker), John Abineri (Hamilton Banker), Brian Freilino (Stockholder), Gregory Corso (Unruly Stockholder), Marino Masé (Lupo), Dado Ruspoli (Vanni), Valeria Sabel (Sister Vincenza), Remo Remotti (Cardinal Sistine), Luigi Laezza (Keinszig Killer), Giuseppe Pianviti (Keinszig Killer), Santo Indelicato (Guardia del Corpo), Simonetta Stefanelli (Apollonia Vitelli-Corleone (archiveFootage)), Francesco Paolo Bellante (Autista di Don Tommasino), Paco Reconti (Gesu), Mimmo Cuticchio (Puppet Narrator), Richard Honigman (Party Reporter), Nicky Blair (Nicky the Casino Host), Anthony Guidera (Anthony, the Bodyguard), Frank Tarsia (Frankie, the Bodyguard), Diana Agostini (Woman with Child at Street Fair), Jessica DiCicco (Child), Catherine Scorsese (Woman in Cafe), Ida Bernardini (Woman in Cafe), Joe Drago (Party Security), David Hume Kennerly (Party Photographer), James D. Damiano (Son Playing Soccer), Michael Boccio (Father of Soccer Player), Erica Yohn (Governess), Teresa Tirelli (Midwife).
      Synopsis: In the final instalment of the GODFATHER Trilogy, an aging Don Michael Corleone seeks to legitimize his crime family’s interests and remove himself from the violent underworld but is kept back by the ambitions of the young.
      Comment: Unnecessary continuation of the story is initially very uneven before improving significantly when the action moves to Sicily for the final act. Main issue is with a script that lacks the depth of character of the earlier movies and a pair of weak performances from Garcia and Sofia Coppola, whose love affair lacks any level of intensity and feels like it has drifted in from a lesser movie. Fortunately, Pacino is once again excellent in the lead role and supported well by Keaton, Wallach and Shire. Coppola admits the movie was made purely for financial reasons. It adds little to the enormous legacy of the first two movies but taken in isolation has enough impressive sequences – notably the opera finale – to pack a punch.
      Notes: Extended version runs 170m.

Film Review – THE GODFATHER PART II (1974)

Robert De Niro and Leopoldo Trieste in The Godfather: Part II (1974)THE GODFATHER: PART II (USA, 1974) *****
      Distributor: Paramount Pictures (USA), Cinema International Corporation (CIC) (UK); Production Company: Paramount Pictures; Release Date: 13 December 1974 (USA), 15 May 1975 (UK); Filming Dates: 2 October 1973 – 19 June 1974; Running Time: 202m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Francis Ford Coppola; Writer: Francis Ford Coppola, Mario Puzo (based on the novel by Mario Puzo); Executive Producer: Robert Evans (uncredited); Producer: Francis Ford Coppola; Associate Producer: Mona Skager; Director of Photography: Gordon Willis; Music Composer: Nino Rota, Carmine Coppola; Film Editor: Barry Malkin, Richard Marks, Peter Zinner; Casting Director: Jane Feinberg, Mike Fenton, Vic Ramos; Production Designer: Dean Tavoularis; Art Director: Angelo P. Graham; Set Decorator: George R. Nelson; Costumes: Theadora Van Runkle; Make-up: Charles H. Schram, Dick Smith; Sound: Nathan Boxer, Charles M. Wilborn; Special Effects: A.D. Flowers, Joe Lombardi.
      Cast: Al Pacino (Michael), Robert Duvall (Tom Hagen), Diane Keaton (Kay), Robert De Niro (Vito Corleone), John Cazale (Fredo Corleone), Talia Shire (Connie Corleone), Lee Strasberg (Hyman Roth), Michael V. Gazzo (Frankie Pentangeli), G.D. Spradlin (Sen. Pat Geary), Richard Bright (Al Neri), Gastone Moschin (Fanucci), Tom Rosqui (Rocco Lampone), Bruno Kirby (Young Clemenza), Frank Sivero (Genco), Francesca De Sapio (Young Mama Corleone), Morgana King (Mama Corleone), Marianna Hill (Deanna Corleone), Leopoldo Trieste (Signor Roberto), Dominic Chianese (Johnny Ola), Amerigo Tot (Michael’s Bodyguard), Troy Donahue (Merle Johnson), John Aprea (Young Tessio), Joe Spinell (Willi Cicci), Abe Vigoda (Tessio), Tere Livrano (Theresa Hagen), Gianni Russo (Carlo), Maria Carta (Vito’s Mother), Oreste Baldini (Vito Andolini – as a Boy), Giuseppe Sillato (Don Francesco), Mario Cotone (Don Tommasino), James Gounaris (Anthony Corleone), Fay Spain (Mrs. Marcia Roth), Harry Dean Stanton (F.B.I. Man #1), James Murdock (F.B.I. Man #2), Carmine Caridi (Carmine Rosato), Danny Aiello (Tony Rosato), Carmine Foresta (Policeman), Nick Discenza (Bartender), Joseph Medaglia (Father Carmelo), William Bowers (Senate Committee Chairman), Joseph Della Sorte (Michael’s Buttonman #1), Carmen Argenziano (Michael’s Buttonman #2), Joe Lo Grippo (Michael’s Buttonman #3), Ezio Flagello (Impressario), Livio Giorgi (Tenor in ‘Senza Mamma’), Kathleen Beller (Girl in ‘Senza Mamma’), Saveria Mazzola (Signora Colombo), Tito Alba (Cuban President), Johnny Naranjo (Cuban Translator), Elda Maida (Pentangeli’s Wife), Salvatore Po (Pentangeli’s Brother), Ignazio Pappalardo (Mosca), Andrea Maugeri (Strollo), Peter LaCorte (Signor Abbandando), Vincent Coppola (Street Vendor), Peter Donat (Questadt), Tom Dahlgren (Fred Corngold), Paul B. Brown (Sen. Ream), Phil Feldman (Senator #1), Roger Corman (Senator #2), Ivonne Coll (Yolanda), Joe De Nicola (Attendant at Brothel), Edward Van Sickle (Ellis Island Doctor), Gabriella Belloni (Ellis Island Nurse), Richard Watson (Customs Official), Venancia Grangerard (Cuban Nurse), Erica Yohn (Governess), Teresa Tirelli (Midwife).
      Synopsis: Continuing saga of the Corleone family as they move to Nevada and make the casino business their major income source under the leadership of the increasingly paranoid and malevolent Michael, whose reign as the “Don” is juxtaposed against the parallel tale of his father’s escape from Sicily as a young boy and his subsequent rise to power in New York’s Lower East Side during the turn-of-the-century.
      Comment: Coppola does the seemingly impossible by topping THE GODFATHER with a follow-up that has even more depth of character and plot. The parallel plot threads weave nicely together giving Pacino and De Niro the opportunity to showcase their considerable acting skills. The supporting cast is perfect with universally strong performances. Coppola’s direction is note-perfect as he seamlessly moves his story between locale and time period. The production design is sumptuous and, aided by Willis’ evocative cinematography, wonderfully captures the contrasts between the poverty experienced by the young Don Vito with the enormous wealth of his legacy. Pacino’s transformation into a single-minded and ultimately lonely and unforgiving figure is beautifully captured by the actor’s skilful performance.
      Notes: Winner of six Academy Awards, including Picture, Director, Supporting Actor (De Niro), Adapted Screenplay, Art Direction and Music. James Caan appears uncredited in a brief cameo. Extended version runs 220m. Followed by THE GODFATHER PART III (1990).