Film Review – UNFORGIVEN (1992)

Clint Eastwood and Jaimz Woolvett in Unforgiven (1992)UNFORGIVEN (USA, 1992) ****½
      Distributor: Warner Bros.; Production Company: Warner Bros. / Malpaso Productions; Release Date: 3 August 1992 (USA), 18 September 1992 (UK); Filming Dates: 26 August 1991 – 12 November 1991; Running Time: 131m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Dolby (as Dolby Stereo); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Panavision (anamorphic); Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: David Webb Peoples; Executive Producer: David Valdes; Producer: Clint Eastwood; Associate Producer: Julian Ludwig; Director of Photography: Jack N. Green; Music Composer: Lennie Niehaus; Film Editor: Joel Cox; Casting Director: Phyllis Huffman; Production Designer: Henry Bumstead; Art Director: Adrian Gorton, Rick Roberts; Set Decorator: Janice Blackie-Goodine; Costumes: Glenn Wright; Make-up: Michael Hancock; Sound: Alan Robert Murray, Walter Newman; Special Effects: John Frazier.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Bill Munny), Gene Hackman (Little Bill Daggett), Morgan Freeman (Ned Logan), Richard Harris (English Bob), Jaimz Woolvett (The ‘Schofield Kid’), Saul Rubinek (W.W. Beauchamp), Frances Fisher (Strawberry Alice), Anna Levine (Delilah Fitzgerald), David Mucci (Quick Mike), Rob Campbell (Davey Bunting), Anthony James (Skinny Dubois), Tara Frederick (Little Sue), Beverley Elliott (Silky), Liisa Repo-Martell (Faith), Josie Smith (Crow Creek Kate), Shane Meier (Will Munny), Aline Levasseur (Penny Munny), Cherrilene Cardinal (Sally Two Trees), Robert Koons (Crocker), Ron White (Clyde Ledbetter), Mina E. Mina (Muddy Chandler), Henry Kope (German Joe Schultz), Jeremy Ratchford (Deputy Andy Russell), John Pyper-Ferguson (Charley Hecker), Jefferson Mappin (Fatty Rossiter), Walter Marsh (Barber), Garner Butler (Eggs Anderson), Larry Reese (Tom Luckinbill), Blair Haynes (Paddy McGee), Frank C. Turner (Fuzzy), Sam Karas (Thirsty Thurston), Lochlyn Munro (Texas Slim), Ben Cardinal (Johnny Foley), Philip Maurice Hayes (Lippy MacGregor), Michael Charrois (Wiggens), William Davidson (Buck Barthol), Paul Anthony McLean (Train Person #1), James Herman (Train Person #2), Michael Maurer (Train Person #3), Larry Joshua (Bucky), George Orrison (The Shadow), Greg Goossen (Fighter).
      Synopsis: A retired Old West gunslinger reluctantly takes on one last job, with the help of his old partner and a young man.
      Comment: Eastwood’s revisionist Western strips away the old mythology surrounding the gunfighters and the lawmen, delivering the vulnerable and violent reality of killing. The film is perfectly paced to capture the nuances in the script and the performances of a wonderful cast, with Hackman, Harris, Freeman and Eastwood all turning in note-perfect interpretations. Gentle acoustic score by Niehaus adds melancholy to the mix alongside wonderful location photography from Green utilising the beautiful landscapes of Alberta, Canada standing in for Wyoming. One of the all-time great Westerns.
      Notes: Winner of four Oscars: Best Picture; Actor in a Supporting Role (Hackman); Director and Film Editing. Only the third western to ever win the Best Picture Oscar. The other two being DANCES WITH WOLVES (1990) and CIMARRON (1931). The final screen credit reads, “Dedicated to Sergio and Don”, referring to Eastwood’s mentors, Sergio Leone and Don Siegel.

Film Review – CLIFFHANGER (1993)

Image result for cliffhanger 1993CLIFFHANGER (Italy/France/USA, 1993) ***½
      Distributor: Guild Film Distribution; Production Company: Carolco Pictures / Canal+ / Pioneer / RCS Video / Cliffhanger Productions; Release Date: 26 May 1993 (USA), 25 June 1993 (UK); Filming Dates: 11 April 1992 – 19 August 1992; Running Time: 113m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: 70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints) | Dolby Digital (35 mm prints) (Europe) | Dolby SR (35 mm prints) (USA); Film Format: 35 mm, 70 mm (blow-up); Film Process: Panavision (anamorphic); Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Renny Harlin; Writer: Michael France, Sylvester Stallone (based on a story by Michael France from a premise by John Long); Executive Producer: Mario Kassar; Producer: Renny Harlin, Alan Marshall; Associate Producer: Jim Davidson, Tony Munafo; Director of Photography: Alex Thomson; Music Composer: Trevor Jones; Film Editor: Frank J. Urioste; Casting Director: Mindy Marin; Production Designer: John Vallone; Art Director: Maria-Teresa Barbasso, Aurelio Crugnola, Christiaan Wagener; Set Decorator: Robert Gould, Cynthia Sleiter; Costumes: Ellen Mirojnick; Make-up: Jeff Dawn; Sound: Scott Martin Gershin, Wylie Stateman, Gregg Baxter; Special Effects: R. Bruce Steinheimer; Visual Effects: John Bruno, Neil Krepela, Jay Riddle.
      Cast: Sylvester Stallone (Gabe Walker), John Lithgow (Qualen), Michael Rooker (Hal Tucker), Janine Turner (Jessie Deighan), Rex Linn (Richard Travers), Caroline Goodall (Kristel), Leon (Kynette), Craig Fairbrass (Delmar), Gregory Scott Cummins (Ryan), Denis Forest (Heldon), Michelle Joyner (Sarah), Max Perlich (Evan), Paul Winfield (Walter Wright), Ralph Waite (Frank), Trey Brownell (Brett), Zach Grenier (Davis), Vyto Ruginis (Matheson), Don S. Davis (Stuart), Scott Hoxby (Agent Hayes), John Finn (Agent Michaels), Bruce McGill (Treasury Agent), Rosemary Dunsmore (Treasury Secretary), Kim Robillard (Treasury Jet Pilot), Jeff McCarthy (Pilot), Mike Weis (Mike – Co-Pilot), Duncan Prentice (Treasury Helicopter Pilot), Kevin Donald (Ray), Jeff Blynn (Marvin), Thor (Thor).
      Synopsis: A botched mid-air heist results in suitcases full of cash being searched for by various groups throughout the Rocky Mountains.
      Comment: Highly enjoyable and exciting, if wildly overblown and often preposterous. Stallone is at his macho best as the lead mountain rescue climber with a chip on his shoulder and the group dynamics give you heroic characters to root for. Lithgow is deliciously over-the-top as the chief villain. Harlin directs with a great feel for action scenes and with flair and pace. Wonderful scenic photography and incredible stunt work. The memorable opening sequence is a real humdinger and superbly edited.
      Notes: Set in Colorado, but filmed in the Cortina d’Ampezzo-Dolomites mountains, because of their spectacular similarities to the Colorado Rockies. Dedicated to Wolfgang Gullich, Sylvester Stallone’s double in the film, who was killed in a car accident shortly after filming had finished.

Film Review – THE ROOKIE (1990)

Related imageTHE ROOKIE (USA, 1990) **
      Distributor: Warner Bros.; Production Company: Warner Bros. / Malpaso Productions / Kazanjian-Siebert Productions / Lighthouse Entertainment; Release Date: 6 December 1990 (USA), 18 January 1991 (UK); Filming Dates: 16 April 1990 – 13 July 1990; Running Time: 120m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: 70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints) | Dolby Stereo (35 mm prints) (4 channels); Film Format: 35 mm (Eastman 5384), 70 mm (blow-up) (Eastman 5384); Film Process: Panavision (anamorphic); Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1; BBFC Cert: 18.
      Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: Boaz Yakin, Scott Spiegel; Producer: Howard G. Kazanjian, Steven Siebert, David Valdes; Director of Photography: Jack N. Green; Music Composer: Lennie Niehaus; Film Editor: Joel Cox; Casting Director: Phyllis Huffman; Production Designer: Judy Cammer, Ken Kaufman; Art Director: Ed Verreaux; Set Decorator: Daniel Loren May; Costumes: Glenn Wright, Deborah Hopper; Make-up: Ralph Gulko, Michael Hancock; Sound: Robert G. Henderson, Alan Robert Murray; Special Effects: John Frazier; Visual Effects: Ken Kaufman.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Nick Pulovski), Charlie Sheen (David Ackerman), Raul Julia (Strom), Sônia Braga (Liesl), Tom Skerritt (Eugene Ackerman), Lara Flynn Boyle (Sarah), Pepe Serna (Lt. Raymond Garcia), Marco Rodríguez (Loco Martinez), Pete Randall (Cruz), Donna Mitchell (Laura Ackerman), Xander Berkeley (Ken Blackwell), Tony Plana (Morales), David Sherrill (Max), Hal Williams (Powell), Lloyd Nelson (Freeway Motorist), Pat DuVal (Interrogator #1), Mara Corday (Interrogator #2), Jerry Schumacher (Interrogator #3), Matt McKenzie (Wang), Joel Polis (Lance), Rodger LaRue (Maitre’D), Robert Dubac (Waiter), Anthony Charnota (Romano), Jordan Lund (Bartender), Paul Ben-Victor (Little Felix), Jeanne Mori (Connie Ling), Anthony Alexander (Alphonse), Paul Butler (Captain Hargate), Seth Allen (David as a Child), Coleby Lombardo (David’s Brother), Roberta Vasquez (Heather Torres), Joe Farago (Anchorman), Robert Harvey (Whalen), Nick Ballo (Vito), Jay Boryea (Sal), Marylou Kenworthy (Receptionist), George Orrison (Detective Orrison).
      Synopsis: A veteran detective gets stuck with a rookie cop when in pursuit of a German crook.
      Comment: Loud, violent, bubble-gum action thriller vehicle for Eastwood and Sheen. It spends all its money on its elaborate and destructive set-pieces, which by their very outlandish nature are wasted on a script that starts out okay then gets progressively dumber. Eastwood and Sheen occasionally spark off each other well, but as a whole, the cast is a collection of cardboard characters and the action is too nasty to be considered fun.
      Notes: The film featured over twice as many stuntmen as it did actors. Held the world record for the biggest ratio of stuntmen/actors. Reportedly, over eighty stuntmen worked on the movie.

Book Review – HIDE AND SEEK (1990) by Ian Rankin

HIDE AND SEEK (1990) ***
by Ian Rankin
First published by Orion 1990
This edition published by Orion, 2011, 278pp (261pp)
ISBN: 978-0-7528-8354-0
includes an introduction by Ian Rankin and Reading Group Notes.

Blurb: A junkie lies dead in an Edinburgh squat, spreadeagled, cross-like on the floor, between two burned-down candles, a five-pointed star daubed on the wall above. Just another dead addict – until John Rebus begins to chip away at the indifference, treachery, deceit and sleaze that lurks behind the facade of the Edinburgh familiar to tourists. Only Rebus seems to care about a death which looks more like a murder every day, about a seductive danger he can almost taste, appealing to the darkest corners of his mind…

Ian Rankin’s second Rebus book is an interesting read when reading out of sequence in the series. Rankin was still a relatively inexperienced novelist at this point, as he readily acknowledges in his own introduction to the book, and the Rebus we see here is not yet the fully formed version that we see in later books. Here we meet Superintendent ‘Farmer’ Watson for the first time, whilst Rebus enjoys G&T and wine rather than his pint of heavy and listens to jazz rather than rock. The mystery itself is interesting and sees Rankin begin to tackle social themes as well as have the newly promoted Rebus solve the case. The book is relatively short compared to the more layered later novels and resists the temptation to expand into sub-plots. In that respect, this is a tightly written police procedural but it would be a few more books before Rankin would really find his stride.

The Rebus Series:

Knots and Crosses (1987) ***
Hide and Seek (1991) ***
Tooth and Nail (original title Wolfman) (1992) ***
Strip Jack (1992)
The Black Book (1993) ***
Mortal Causes (1994) ***
Let it Bleed (1996)
Black and Blue (1997) ****½
The Hanging Garden (1998) ****
Dead Souls (1999) ****
Set in Darkness (2000) ****
The Falls (2001) ****
Resurrection Men (2002)
A Question of Blood (2003) ****
Fleshmarket Close (2004) ****
The Naming of the Dead (2006)  ****½
Exit Music (2007) ****
Standing in Another Man’s Grave (2012) ***½
Saints of the Shadow Bible (2013) ***
Even Dogs in the Wild (2015) ****
Rather Be the Devil (2016) ***½
In a House of Lies (2018) ***½

Film Review – PINK CADILLAC (1989)

PINK CADILLAC (USA, 1989) **½
      Distributor: Warner Bros.; Production Company: Malpaso Productions / Warner Bros. Pictures; Release Date: 26 May 1989 (USA), November 1989 (UK); Filming Dates: 3 October 1988; Running Time: 122m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Dolby; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Buddy Van Horn; Writer: John Eskow; Executive Producer: Michael Gruskoff; Producer: David Valdes; Director of Photography: Jack N. Green; Music Composer: Steve Dorff; Film Editor: Joel Cox; Casting Director: Phyllis Huffman; Production Designer: Edward C. Carfagno; Set Decorator: Thomas L. Roysden; Costumes: Glenn Wright, Deborah Hopper; Make-up: Michael Hancock; Sound: Robert G. Henderson, Alan Robert Murray; Special Effects: Calvin Joe Acord, John Frazier, Harold Selig.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Tommy Nowak), Bernadette Peters (Lou Ann McGuinn), Timothy Carhart (Roy McGuinn), Tiffany Gail Robinson (McGuinn Baby), Angela Louise Robinson (McGuinn Baby), John Dennis Johnston (Waycross), Michael Des Barres (Alex), Jimmie F. Skaggs (Billy Dunston), Bill Moseley (Darrell), Michael Champion (Ken Lee), William Hickey (Mr. Barton), Geoffrey Lewis (Ricky Z), Gary Howard Klar (Randy Bates), Dirk Blocker (Policeman #1), Leonard R. Garner Jr. (Policeman #2), Robert L. Feist (Rodeo Announcer), Gary Leffew (John Capshaw), Robert Harvey (Skip Tracer in Diner), Gerry Bamman (Buddy), Julie Hoopman (Waitress), Travis Swords (Capshaw’s Attorney), Paul Benjamin (Judge), Randy Kirby (District Attorney), Linda Hoy (Lou Ann’s Attorney), Cliff Bemis (Jeff), Frances Fisher (Dinah), Bryan Adams (Gas Station Attendant), Sue Ann Gilfillan (Saleslady), John Fleck (Lounge Lizard), Bill Wattenburg (Pit Boss), Mara Corday (Stick Lady), Jim Carrey (Lounge Entertainer), Erik C. Westby (Room Service Waiter), Richie Allan (Derelict), Roy Conrad (Barker), Wayne Storm (Jack Bass), James Cromwell (Motel Desk Clerk), Sven-Ole Thorsen (Birthright Thug), Bill McKinney (Coltersville Bartender).
      Synopsis: Bounty hunter Tommy Nowak (Eastwood) is on the trail of Lou Ann McGuinn (Peters), a bail jumper last seen burning rubber in her husband’s pink Cadillac.
      Comment: Uneasy mix of violent action and comedy marks a change of pace for Eastwood who gives a broad performance as a bail-skip tracer who adopts a series of disguises to trap his targets. That is the only real note of interest in an otherwise familiar and not overly engaging story populated with caricatures and a simple plot that is drawn out over two hours of screen time. Peters, however, is good as Eastwood’s latest target in whose story he becomes embroiled. This is definitely a minor-league Eastwood vehicle and was a flop at the box office.

Film Review – THE DEAD POOL (1988)

Image result for the dead pool 1988THE DEAD POOL (USA, 1988) ***
      Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures; Production Company: Warner Bros. Pictures / Malpaso Productions; Release Date: 13 July 1988 (USA), 14 April 1989 (UK); Filming Dates: 17 February – March 1988; Running Time: 91m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Dolby Stereo (4 channels) | Dolby Digital (5.1); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: 18.
      Director: Buddy Van Horn; Writer: Steve Sharon (based on a story by Steve Sharon, Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw and characters created by Harry Julian Fink and Rita M. Fink); Producer: David Valdes; Director of Photography: Jack N. Green; Music Composer: Lalo Schifrin; Film Editor: Ron Spang; Casting Director: Phyllis Huffman; Production Designer: Edward C. Carfagno; Set Decorator: Thomas L. Roysden; Costumes: Glenn Wright, Deborah Hopper; Make-up: Monty Westmore; Sound: Richard S. Church; Special Effects: Joe Day, Bob Finley III, Chuck Gaspar, Thomas Mertz, Bruce Robles.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Harry Callahan), Patricia Clarkson (Samantha Walker), Liam Neeson (Peter Swan), Evan C. Kim (Al Quan), David Hunt (Harlan Rook), Michael Currie (Captain Donnelly), Michael Goodwin (Lt. Ackerman), Darwin Gillett (Patrick Snow), Anthony Charnota (Lou Janero), Christopher P. Beale (D.A. Thomas McSherry), John Vick (Lt. Ruskowski), Jeff Richmond (Freeway Reporter #1), Patrick N. Van Horn (Freeway Reporter #2), Sigrid Wurschmidt (Freeway Reporter #3), Jim Carrey (Johnny Squares), Deborah A. Bryan (Girl in Rock Video), Nicholas Love (Jeff Howser), Maureen McVerry (Vicky Owens), John X. Heart (Samantha’s Cameraman), Victoria Bastel (Suzanne Dayton), Kathleen Turco-Lyon (Officer at Trailer), Michael Faqir (Sergeant at Trailer), Ronnie Claire Edwards (Molly Fisher), Wallace Choy (Chinese Store Manager), Melodie Soe (Chinese Restaurant Hostess), Kristopher Logan (Gunman #1), Scott Vance (Gunman #2), Glenn Wright (Detective Hindmark), Stu Klitsner (Minister), Karen Kahn (T.V. Associate Producer), Shawn Elliott (Chester Docksteder), Ren Reynolds (Perry), Ed Hodson (Paramedic at Elevator), Edward Hocking (Warden Hocking), Diego Chairs (Butcher Hicks), Patrick Valentino (Pirate Captain), Calvin Jones (Pirate Tug Reporter #1), Melissa Martin (Pirate Tug Reporter #2), Phil Dacey (Detective Dacey), Louis Giambalvo (Gus Wheeler), Peter Anthony Jacobs (Sgt. Holloway), Bill Wattenburg (Nolan Kennard), Hugh McCann (Young Man on Talkshow), Suzanne Sterling (Young Woman on Talkshow), Lloyd Nelson (Sgt. Waldman), Charles Martinet (Police Station Reporter #1), Taylor Gilbert (Police Station Reporter #2), George Orrison (Embarcadero Bodyguard #1), Marc Alaimo (Embarcadero Bodyguard #2), Justin Whalin (Jason), Kris LeFan (Carl), Katie Bruce (Girl on Sidewalk), Harry Demopoulos (Doctor in Hospital Room), John Frederick Jones (Dr. Friedman), Martin Ganapoler (Reporter at Pier).
      Synopsis: Dirty Harry Callahan must stop a sick secret contest to murder local celebrities, which includes himself as a target.
      Comment: Fifth and final DIRTY HARRY movie is an outlandish but watchable thriller coasting on Eastwood’s star presence. The plot is far-fetched, including a great set-piece with a toy car carrying a bomb. Clarkson is a reporter out to get the story who falls in with Eastwood.  Carrey grabs attention as a junkie rock star, whilst Neeson is seen in an early role as a self-obsessed film director. It all adds up to a comic book action thriller, but a diverting time for undemanding viewers.
      Notes: Song: “Welcome to the Jungle,” written by Slash, W. Axl Rose, Steven Adler, Izzy Stradlin and Duff Rose McKageh, performed by Guns N’ Roses, courtesy of Geffen Records, by arrangement with Warner Special Products.

Film Review – HEARTBREAK RIDGE (1986)

Image result for heartbreak ridge 1986HEARTBREAK RIDGE (USA, 1986) ***½
      Distributor: Warner Bros.; Production Company: The Malpaso Company/ Jay Weston Productions; Release Date: 5 December 1986 (USA), 9 January 1987 (UK); Filming Dates: 4 June 1986 – 25 July 1986; Running Time: 130m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Dolby Stereo; Film Format: 35 mm (Eastman 5384); Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: James Carabatsos; Executive Producer: Fritz Manes; Producer: Clint Eastwood; Director of Photography: Jack N. Green; Music Composer: Lennie Niehaus; Film Editor: Joel Cox; Casting Director: Phyllis Huffman; Production Designer: Edward C. Carfagno; Set Decorator: Robert R. Benton; Costumes: Glenn Wright; Make-up: E. Thomas Case; Sound: Bill Nelson; Special Effects: Chuck Gaspar.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Gunnery Sergent Thomas Highway), Marsha Mason (Aggie), Everett McGill (Major Malcolm Powers), Moses Gunn (Staff Sgt. Webster), Eileen Heckart (Little Mary), Bo Svenson (Roy Jennings), Boyd Gaines (Lieutenant Ring), Mario Van Peebles (Corporal Stitch Jones), Arlen Dean Snyder (Sergeant Major Choozoo), Vincent Irizarry (Fragetti), Ramón Franco (Aponte (as Ramon), Tom Villard (Profile), Mike Gomez (Quinones), Rodney Hill (Collins), Peter Koch (‘Swede’ Johanson), Richard Venture (Colonel Meyers), Peter Jason (Major Devin), J.C. Quinn (Quartermaster Sgt.), Begonya Plaza (Mrs. Aponte), John Eames (Judge Zane), Thom Sharp (Emcee), John Gallagher (Emcee), John Hostetter (Reese), Holly Shelton-Foy (Sarita Dwayne), Nicholas Worth (Jail Binger), Timothy Fall (Kid in Jail), Jon Pennell (Jail Crier), Trish Garland (Woman Marine Officer), George Hartmann (Bar Tough Guy), Darwyn Swalve (Bar Tough Guy), Christopher Michael (Marine), Alex M. Bello (Marine), Steve Halsey (Bus Driver), John Sasse (Bus Driver), Rebecca Perle (Student in Shower), Annie O’Donnell (Telephone Operator), Elizabeth Ruscio (Waitress), Lloyd Nelson (Deputy), John H. Brewer (Sgt. Major in Court), Michael Maurer (Bouncer in Bar), Tom Ellison (Marine Corporal).
      Synopsis: A hard-nosed, hard-living Marine gunnery sergeant clashes with his superiors and his ex-wife as he takes command of a spoiled recon platoon with a bad attitude.
      Comment: Highly entertaining film coasts on Eastwood’s supremely charismatic performance whilst it ploughs a similar furrow as SANDS OF IWO JIMA, despite the stakes being lower. Eastwood’s tough-as-nails marine may be a caricature to some degree, but there is also a depth to the star’s performance that elevates the film above its derivative storyline. Van Peebles is a good foil for Eastwood and Mason gives a strong performance as the ex who lost out to the army. The film falters only in its two-dimensional characterisation of the Marine Corps brass.

Film Review – TO ROME WITH LOVE (2012)

Image result for to rome with loveTO ROME WITH LOVE (USA/Italy/Spain, 2012) ***
      Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics; Production Company: Medusa Film / Gravier Productions / Perdido Productions / Mediapro; Release Date: 22 June 2012 (USA), 14 September 2012 (UK); Filming Dates: 11 July 2011 – 31 August 2011; Running Time: 112m; Colour: DeLuxe; Sound Mix: Dolby Digital; Film Format: 35 mm (spherical) (Kodak Vision 2383), D-Cinema; Film Process: Digital Intermediate (2K) (master format), Super 35 (source format); Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: 12.
      Director: Woody Allen; Writer: Woody Allen; Executive Producer: Jack Rollins; Producer: Faruk Alatan, Letty Aronson, Giampaolo Letta, Stephen Tenenbaum, David Nichols, Helen Robin; Director of Photography: Darius Khondji; Music Supervisor: Michelle Dickson Fine; Film Editor: Alisa Lepselter; Casting Director: Patricia DiCerto, Beatrice Kruger, Juliet Taylor; Production Designer: Anne Seibel; Art Director: Luca Tranchino; Set Decorator: Raffaella Giovannetti; Costumes: Sonia Grande; Make-up: Alessandro Bertolazzi; Sound: Maurizio Argentieri; Special Effects: Daniel Acon, Stefano Corridori; Visual Effects: Fabio Bianchi.
      Cast:Hayley’s Story“: Alison Pill (Hayley, Michelangelo’s fiancée), Flavio Parenti (Michelangelo Santoli, Hayley’s fiancé), Woody Allen (Jerry, Hayley’s father and Phyllis’ husband), Judy Davis (Phyllis, Hayley’s mother and Jerry’s wife), Fabio Armiliato (Giancarlo Santoli, Michelangelo’s father). “Leopoldo’s Story“: Roberto Benigni (Leopoldo Pisanello, a clerk and temporary celebrity), Monica Nappo (Sofia Pisanello, Leopoldo’s wife), Cecilia Capriotti (Serafina, a secretary), Marta Zoffoli (Marisa Raguso, an interviewer for Leopoldo). “Antonio’s Story“: Alessandro Tiberi (Antonio, Milly’s husband), Alessandra Mastronardi (Milly, Antonio’s wife), Penélope Cruz (Anna, a prostitute), Simona Caparrini (Joan, Antonio’s aunt), Ornella Muti (Pia Fusari, a famous actress), Antonio Albanese (Luchina “”Luca”” Salta, a famous actor), Riccardo Scamarcio (hotel thief), Roberto Della Casa (Uncle Paolo), Giuliano Gemma (hotel manager). “John’s Story“: Alec Baldwin (John Foy, successful architect and Jack’s acquaintance and adviser), Jesse Eisenberg (Jack, Sally’s boyfriend), Greta Gerwig (Sally, Jack’s girlfriend and Monica’s best friend), Ellen Page (Monica, Sally’s best friend), Lino Guanciale (Leonardo).
      Synopsis: The lives of some visitors and residents of Rome and the romances, adventures and predicaments they get into.
      Comment: Uneven but fun collection of four distinct, but interwoven stories. Allen’s gift for comic absurdity is exemplified by the opera singer who can only perform in the shower (“Hayley’s Story”) and the Italian clerk who wakes up one morning to find he is famous and hounded by the press and public (“Leopoldo’s Story”). “Antonio’s Story” is more of a bedroom farce, whilst “John’s Story” is a typical Allen tale of lust and regret. Taken in isolation each has its merits, but as a whole, they fail to hang together in a cohesive way, although themes of the effects of fame, manipulation and surrender to one’s baser instincts are a clear thread. Allen and Davis spar wonderfully as parents meeting their daughter’s fiancée for the first time. The Eisenberg/Page segment, however, comes across as forced and contrived. A mixed bag then, but enough to satisfy Allen’s fanbase.

Film Review – PALE RIDER (1985)

Image result for pale rider 1985PALE RIDER (USA, 1985) ***½
      Distributor: Warner Bros.; Production Company: The Malpaso Company; Release Date: 27 June 1985 (USA), 4 October 1985 (UK); Filming Dates: began 17 September 1984; Running Time: 115m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Dolby; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Panavision (anamorphic); Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: Michael Butler, Dennis Shryack; Executive Producer: Fritz Manes; Producer: Clint Eastwood; Associate Producer: David Valdes; Director of Photography: Bruce Surtees; Music Composer: Lennie Niehaus; Film Editor: Joel Cox; Casting Director: Phyllis Huffman; Production Designer: Edward C. Carfagno; Set Decorator: Ernie Bishop; Costumes: Glenn Wright; Make-up: Barbara Guedel; Sound: C. Darin Knight; Special Effects: Chuck Gaspar.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Preacher), Michael Moriarty (Hull Barret), Carrie Snodgress (Sarah Wheeler), Chris Penn (Josh LaHood), Richard Dysart (Coy LaHood), Sydney Penny (Megan Wheeler), Richard Kiel (Club), Doug McGrath (Spider Conway), John Russell (Stockburn), Charles Hallahan (McGill), Marvin J. McIntyre (Jagou), Fran Ryan (Ma Blankenship), Richard Hamilton (Jed Blankenship), Graham Paul (Ev Gossage), Chuck Lafont (Eddie Conway), Jeffrey Weissman (Teddy Conway), Allen Keller (Tyson), Randy Oglesby (Elam), Herman Poppe (Ulrik Lindquist), Kathleen Wygle (Bess Gossage), Terrence Evans (Jake Henderson), Jim Hitson (Biggs), Loren Adkins (Bossy), Thomas H. Friedkin (Miner Tom), S.A. Griffin (Deputy Folke), Jack Radosta (Deputy Grissom), Robert Winley (Deputy Kobold), Billy Drago (Deputy Mather), Jeffrey Josephson (Deputy Sedge), John Dennis Johnston (Deputy Tucker), Michael Adams (Horseman), Clay M. Lilley (Horseman), Gene Hartline (Horseman), R.L. Tolbert (Horseman), Clifford Happy (Horseman), Ross Loney (Horseman), Larry Randles (Horseman), Mike H. McGaughy (Horseman), Jerry Gatlin (Horseman), Lloyd Nelson (Bank Teller), Jay K. Fishburn (Telegrapher), George Orrison (Stationmaster Whitey), Milton Murrill (Porter), Mike Munsey (Dentist / Barber), Keith Dillin (Blacksmith), Buddy Van Horn (Stage Driver), Fritz Manes (Stage Rider), Glenn Wright (Stage Rider).
      Synopsis: A mysterious preacher protects a humble prospector village from a greedy mining company trying to encroach on their land.
      Comment: Eastwood’s first Western since THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES nine years earlier is a thinly disguised reworking of the themes explored in SHANE (1953) and Eastwood’s earlier HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER (1973). Eastwood deftly mixes the morality messaging of SHANE with the mysticism of HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER and the film’s lack of an original perspective makes it seem at times overly familiar. There is, however, much to enjoy here with Eastwood and an excellent cast making the most of the familiar situations. The star is in good form returning to his stranger persona as he helps a group of prospectors panning for gold against a mining company out for their land. The production is well-mounted in a beautiful setting in Idaho, which is sumptuously captured by cinematographer Surtees at the start of a snowy autumn.

Film Review – CITY HEAT (1984)

Image result for city heat 1984CITY HEAT (USA, 1984) ***
      Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures; Production Company: The Malpaso Company / Deliverance Productions; Release Date: 5 December 1984 (USA), 1 March 1985 (UK); Filming Dates: began 9 April 1984; Running Time: 93m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Dolby; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Richard Benjamin; Writer: Blake Edwards (as Sam O. Brown), Joseph Stinson; Producer: Fritz Manes; Director of Photography: Nick McLean; Music Composer: Lennie Niehaus; Film Editor: Jacqueline Cambas; Casting Director: ; Production Designer: Edward C. Carfagno; Set Decorator: George Gaines; Costumes: Norman Salling; Make-up: Tom Ellingwood, Daniel C. Striepeke; Sound: C. Darin Knight; Special Effects: Joseph A. Unsinn.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Lieutenant Speer), Burt Reynolds (Mike Murphy), Jane Alexander (Addy), Madeline Kahn (Caroline Howley), Rip Torn (Primo Pitt), Irene Cara (Ginny Lee), Richard Roundtree (Dehl Swift), Tony Lo Bianco (Leon Coll), William Sanderson (Lonnie Ash), Nicholas Worth (Troy Roker), Robert Davi (Nino), Jude Farese (Dub Slack), John Hancock (Fat Freddy), Jack Thibeau (Garage Soldier), Gerald S. O’Loughlin (Counterman Louie), Bruce M. Fischer (Bruiser), Art LaFleur (Bruiser), Jack Nance (Aram Strossell, the Bookkeeper), Dallas Cole (Redhead Sherry), Lou Fillipo (Referee), Michael Maurer (Vint Diestock), Preston Sparks (Keith Stoddard), Ernie Sabella (Ballistics Expert), Christopher Michael Moore (Roxy Cop), Carey Loftin (Roxy Driver), Harry Caesar (Locker Room Attendant), Charles Parks (Dr. Breslin), Hamilton Camp (Garage Attendant), Tab Thacker (Tuck), Gene LeBell (Garage Soldier), Nick Dimitri (Garage Soldier), George Fisher (Garage Soldier), Bob Herron (Garage Soldier), Bill Hart (Garage Soldier), Arthur Malet (Doc Loomis), Fred Lerner (Pitt Roof Sniper), George Orrison (Pitt Doorway Thug), Beau Starr (Pitt Lookout), Anthony Charnota (Poker Player), Walter Robles (Poker Player), Richard Foronjy (Poker Player), Joan Shawlee (Peggy Barker), Minnie Summers Lindsey (Bordello Maid), Darwyn Swalve (Bordello Bouncer), Wiley Harker (Mr. Smith), Bob Maxwell (Mr. Smith), Tom Spratley (Chauffeur), Bob Terhune (Billiard Soldier), Holgie Forrester (Little Red), Harry Demopoulos (Roman Orgy Patron), James C. Lewis (Roxy Patron), Edwin Prevost (Butler), Alfie Wise (Short Guy), Hank Calia (Shorter Friend), Alex Plasschaert (Shortest Friend), Daphne Eckler (Agnes), Lonna Montrose (Didi).
      Synopsis: A slick private eye and tough police lieutenant–once partners, now bitter enemies–reluctantly team up to investigate a murder.
      Comment: Well-meaning period comedy teaming of Eastwood and Reynolds coasts on the charisma of, and the interplay between, its two stars. Both play on their standard movie personas to great effect. The plot is a simple one of the hunt, by an organised crime syndicate, for stolen ledgers that have come into the hands of Reynolds’ partner, Roundtree. Where the film falls flat is in its mixing broad comedy with some extreme violence leading to an uneasy blend. It’s a shame because there is much to recommend it – including a game cast, Carfagno’s superb production design, Niehaus’ jazzy score and the use of classic songs.
      Notes: Blake Edwards was the original writer and director on the project. He stepped aside as director after creative differences with star Eastwood.