Film Review – THE MULE (2018)

Image result for the mule 2018THE MULE (USA, 2018) ***½
      Distributor: Warner Bros.; Production Company: Imperative Entertainment / Warner Bros. / Bron Studios / Malpaso Productions; Release Date: 10 December 2018 (USA), 25 January 2019 (UK); Filming Dates: Began 2 June 2018; Running Time: 116m; Colour: Colour; Sound Mix: Dolby Digital (7.1 surround); Film Format: D-Cinema; Film Process: Digital Intermediate (2K) (master format), Panavision (anamorphic) (source format); Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: Nick Schenk (inspired by the New York Times Magazine Article “The Sinaloa Cartel’s 90-Year Old Drug Mule” by Sam Dolnick); Executive Producer: David Bernad, Jason Cloth, Ruben Fleischer, Aaron L. Gilbert, Todd Hoffman; Producer: Clint Eastwood, Dan Friedkin, Jessica Meier, Tim Moore, Kristina Rivera, Bradley Thomas; Associate Producer: Holly Hagy; Director of Photography: Yves Bélanger; Music Composer: Arturo Sandoval; Music Supervisor: ; Film Editor: Joel Cox; Casting Director: Tara Feldstein, Geoffrey Miclat, Chase Paris; Production Designer: Kevin Ishioka; Art Director: Rory Bruen, Julien Pougnier; Set Decorator: Ronald R. Reiss; Costumes: Deborah Hopper; Make-up: Luisa Abel; Sound: Alan Robert Murray; Special Effects: J.D. Schwalm; Visual Effects: Adam Ohl, Suraj Kaur Khalsa, Rick Sander.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Earl Stone), Bradley Cooper (Colin Bates), Laurence Fishburne (Carl), Michael Peña (Trevino), Dianne Wiest (Mary), Ignacio Serricchio (Julio), Andy García (Latón), Taissa Farmiga (Ginny), Alison Eastwood (Iris), Richard Herd (Tim Kennedy), Lobo Sebastian (Bug), Manny Montana (Axl), Noel G. (Bald Rob), Loren Dean (DEA Agent Brown), Victor Rasuk (Rico), Clifton Collins Jr. (Gustavo), Robert LaSardo (Emilio), Eugene Cordero (Luis Rocha).
      Synopsis: A 90-year-old horticulturist and Korean War veteran is caught transporting $3 million worth of cocaine through Illinois for a Mexican drug cartel.
      Comment: Entertaining, if slight, story that fully capitalises on Eastwood’s charisma – which still burns bright into his 88th year. Evenly paced and directed with a sure hand, it benefits by concentrating on bringing character development to the forefront and using the plot as the device to do so. Cooper also gives a nicely judged performance as the drug enforcement officer closing in on the drug cartel’s operation. The scenes between Eastwood and Cooper are sublimely understated adding to the bittersweet nature of the story’s resolution.
      Notes: The movie was inspired by the story of Leo Sharp, a World War II veteran in his 80s who became the world’s oldest and most prolific drug mule for the Sinaloa Cartel.

Film Review – TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE (2012)

Image result for trouble with the curveTROUBLE WITH THE CURVE (USA, 2012) ***
      Distributor: Warner Bros.; Production Company: Warner Bros / Malpaso Productions; Release Date: 19 September 2012 (USA), 30 November 2012 (UK); Filming Dates: Began March 2012; Running Time: 111m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Dolby Digital | Datasat | SDDS; Film Format: 35mm (Kodak Vision 2383), D-Cinema; Film Process: Digital Intermediate (2K) (master format), Panavision (anamorphic) (source format); Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1; BBFC Cert: 12.
      Director: Robert Lorenz; Writer: Randy Brown; Executive Producer: Tim Moore; Producer: Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Michele Weisler; Director of Photography: Tom Stern; Music Composer: Marco Beltrami; Film Editor: Joel Cox, Gary Roach; Casting Director: Geoffrey Miclat; Production Designer: James J. Murakami; Art Director: Patrick M. Sullivan Jr.; Set Decorator: Gary Fettis; Costumes: Deborah Hopper; Make-up: Luisa Abel; Sound: Bub Asman, Alan Robert Murray; Special Effects: Steve Riley; Visual Effects: Darin McCormick-Millett.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Gus Lobel), Amy Adams (Mickey Lobel), Justin Timberlake (Johnny Flanagan), Matthew Lillard (Phillip Sanderson), Jack Gilpin (Schwartz), John Goodman (Pete Klein), Robert Patrick (Vince), Scott Eastwood (Billy Clark), Ed Lauter (Max), Chelcie Ross (Smitty), Raymond Anthony Thomas (Lucious), Matt Bush (Danny), George Wyner (Rosenbloom), Bob Gunton (Watson), Tom Dreesen (Rock), James Patrick Freetly (Todd), Joe Massingill (Bo Gentry), Jay Galloway (Rigoberto (Rigo) Sanchez), Sammy Blue (the blues guitar musician).
      Synopsis: An ailing baseball scout in his twilight years takes his daughter along for one last recruiting trip.
      Comment: Whilst the movie may be both predictable and a little contrived it is more than compensated for by the central performance of Eastwood and his strong chemistry with Adams (as his estranged daughter) and Timberlake (a former protegee). Goodman is also good in a supporting role as Eastwood’s boss. Traditional crowd-pleasing elements combine with the grizzled cynicism of Eastwood’s character to make for an enjoyable, if slight, entertainment.

Film Review – GRAN TORINO (2008)

Related imageGRAN TORINO (USA/Germany, 2008) ****
      Distributor: Warner Bros.; Production Company: Matten Productions / Double Nickel Entertainment / Gerber Pictures / Malpaso Productions / Media Magik Entertainment / Village Roadshow Pictures / WV Films IV / Warner Bros; Release Date: 9 December 2008 (USA), 17 February 2009 (UK); Filming Dates: 14 July 2008 – 16 August 2008; Running Time: 116m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS; Film Format: 35mm (Kodak Vision 2383), D-Cinema; Film Process: Digital Intermediate (2K) (master format), Panavision (anamorphic) (source format); Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: Nick Schenk, Dave Johannson; Executive Producer: Bruce Berman, Jenette Kahn, Tim Moore, Adam Richman; Producer: Clint Eastwood, Bill Gerber, Robert Lorenz; Director of Photography: Tom Stern; Music Composer: Kyle Eastwood, Michael Stevens; Film Editor: Joel Cox, Gary Roach; Casting Director: Ellen Chenoweth; Production Designer: Phill Zagajewski, James J. Murakami; Art Director: John Warnke, Shelagh Conley; Set Decorator: Gary Fettis; Costumes: Deborah Hopper; Make-up: Tania McComas; Sound: Alan Robert Murray; Special Effects: Steve Riley; Visual Effects: Mark Freund, Julian Levi, Darin McCormick-Millett, Kelly Port.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Walt Kowalski), Christopher Carley (Father Janovich), Bee Vang (Thao), Ahney Her (Sue), Brian Haley (Mitch Kowalski), Geraldine Hughes (Karen Kowalski), Dreama Walker (Ashley Kowalski), Brian Howe (Steve Kowalski), John Carroll Lynch (Barber Martin), William Hill (Tim Kennedy), Brooke Chia Thao (Vu), Chee Thao (Grandma), Choua Kue (Youa), Scott Eastwood (Trey), Xia Soua Chang (Kor Khue), Sonny Vue (Smokie), Doua Moua (Spider), Greg Trzaskoma (Bartender), John Johns (Al), Davis Gloff (Darrell), Thomas D. Mahard (Mel), Cory Hardrict (Duke), Nana Gbewonyo (Monk), Arthur Cartwright (Prez), Austin Douglas Smith (Daniel Kowalski), Conor Liam Callaghan (David Kowalski), Michael E. Kurowski (Josh Kowalski), Julia Ho (Dr. Chu), Maykao K. Lytongpao (Gee), Carlos Guadarrama (Head Latino), Andrew Tamez-Hull (Latino Gangbanger), Ramon Camacho (Latino Gangbanger), Antonio Mireles (Latino Gangbanger), Ia Vue Yang (Hmong Flower Woman), Zoua Kue (Hmong Flower Woman), Elvis Thao (Hmong Gangbanger), Jerry Lee (Hmong Gangbanger), Lee Mong Vang (Hmong Gangbanger), Tru Hang (Hmong Grandfather), Alice Lor (Hmong Granddaughter), Tong Pao Kue (Hmong Husband), Douacha Ly (Hmong Man), Parng D. Yarng (Hmong Neighbor), Nelly Yang Sao Yia (Hmong Wife), Marty Bufalini (Lawyer), My-Ishia Cason-Brown (Muslim Receptionist), Clint Ward (Officer), Stephen Kue (Officer Chang), Rochelle Winter (Waitress), Claudia Rodgers (White Woman Neighbor), Vincent Bonasso (Tailor).
      Synopsis: A disgruntled Korean War vet sets out to reform his neighbour, a young Hmong teenager, who tried to steal Kowalski’s prized possession: his 1972 Gran Torino.
      Comment: Modern morality tale effectively uses Eastwood’s embittered and recently widowed war veteran as the story’s conscience. Initially antagonistic to his Hmong neighbours he gradually grows to accept and like them, whilst taking on a mentor role for the young teenager. The script may heavily hammer home the point, but it is directed with taste, humour, and a strong sense of character progression. Eastwood is also on top of his game in the acting department and delivers his lines like the true veteran he had become. The final scenes wonderfully portray closure on the theme of salvation which resonates throughout this quality movie.

Film Review – MILLION DOLLAR BABY (2004)

Image result for million dollar baby 2004MILLION DOLLAR BABY (USA, 2004) *****
      Distributor: Entertainment Film Distributors; Production Company: Warner Bros. / Lakeshore Entertainment / Malpaso Productions / Albert S. Ruddy Productions; Release Date: 5 December 2004 (USA), 14 January 2005 (UK); Filming Dates: 7 June 2004 – 14 July 2004; Running Time: 132m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS; Film Format: 35mm (Kodak Vision 2383); Film Process: Panavision (anamorphic); Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1; BBFC Cert: 12.
      Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: Paul Haggis (based on stories from “Rope Burns” by F.X. Toole); Executive Producer: Robert Lorenz, Gary Lucchesi; Producer: Clint Eastwood, Paul Haggis, Tom Rosenberg, Albert S. Ruddy; Director of Photography: Tom Stern; Music Composer: Clint Eastwood; Film Editor: Joel Cox; Casting Director: Phyllis Huffman; Production Designer: Henry Bumstead; Art Director: Jack G. Taylor Jr.; Set Decorator: Richard C. Goddard; Costumes: Deborah Hopper; Make-up: Tania McComas; Sound: Alan Robert Murray, Bub Asman; Special Effects: Steve Riley; Visual Effects: Liz Radley.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Frankie Dunn), Hilary Swank (Maggie Fitzgerald), Morgan Freeman (Eddie Scrap-Iron Dupris), Jay Baruchel (Danger Barch), Mike Colter (Big Willie Little), Lucia Rijker (Billie ‘The Blue Bear’), Brían F. O’Byrne (Father Horvak), Anthony Mackie (Shawrelle Berry), Margo Martindale (Earline Fitzgerald), Riki Lindhome (Mardell Fitzgerald), Michael Peña (Omar), Benito Martinez (Billie’s Manager), Bruce MacVittie (Mickey Mack), David Powledge (Counterman at Diner), Joe D’Angerio (Cut Man), Marcus Chait (J.D. Fitzgerald), Tom McCleister (Lawyer), Erica Grant (Nurse), Naveen (Pakistani), Morgan Eastwood (Little Girl in Truck), Jamison Yang (Paramedic), Dean Familton (Ref #1), Louis Moret (Ref #2), V.J. Foster (Ref #3), Jon D. Schorle II (Ref #4), Marty Sammon (Ref #5), Steven M. Porter (Ref #6), Ray Corona (Ref #7), Ming Lo (Rehab Doctor), Miguel Pérez (Restaurant Owner), Jim Cantafio (Ring Doctor #1), Ted Grossman (Ring Doctor #2), Ned Eisenberg (Sally Mendoza), Marco Rodríguez (Second at Vegas Fight), Roy Nugent (Fan in Vegas), Don Familton (Ring Announcer), Mark Thomason (Radio Commentator), Brian T. Finney (Irish Fan #1), Spice Williams-Crosby (Irish Fan #2), Kim Strauss (Irish Fan #3), Rob Maron (Irish Fan #4), Kirsten Berman (Irish Fan #5), Susan Krebs (Rehab Nurse), Sunshine Chantal Parkman (Rehab Nurse #2), Kim Dannenberg (Rehab Nurse #3), Eddie Bates (Rehab Resident).
      Synopsis: A determined woman works with a hardened boxing trainer to become a professional.
      Comment: An outstanding drama that works on many levels. It’s seemingly simple and straight-forward sporting drama plot is deceptive as it adds subtle layers of subtext and a change of direction in its final act that is both shocking and intensely moving. Eastwood, Swank and Freeman give multi-dimensional performances. Haggis’ script is wonderful in its use of dialogue and the way it manages the more melodramatic moments. Eastwood directs with a veteran’s eye and ear. Stern’s contrast heavy photography helps set the dark tone. A true modern classic.
      Notes: Won 4 Oscars including Best Film, Director, Actress (Swank) and Supporting Actor (Freeman).

Film Review – BLOOD WORK (2002)

Image result for BLOOD WORK 2002BLOOD WORK (USA, 2002) ***
      Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures; Production Company: Malpaso Productions / Warner Bros. Pictures; Release Date: 6 August 2002 (USA), 27 December 2002 (UK); Filming Dates: Began 19 February 2002 – March 2002; Running Time: 110m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS; Film Format: 35mm (Fuji); Film Process: Panavision (anamorphic); Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: Brian Helgeland (based on the novel by Michael Connelly); Executive Producer: Robert Lorenz; Producer: Clint Eastwood; Director of Photography: Tom Stern; Music Composer: Lennie Niehaus; Film Editor: Joel Cox; Casting Director: Phyllis Huffman; Production Designer: Henry Bumstead; Art Director: Jack G. Taylor Jr.; Set Decorator: Richard C. Goddard; Costumes: Deborah Hopper; Make-up: Tania McComas, Francisco X. Pérez; Sound: Alan Robert Murray, Bub Asman; Special Effects: Steve Riley; Visual Effects: Michael Owens.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Terry McCaleb), Jeff Daniels (Jasper ‘Buddy’ Noone), Anjelica Huston (Dr. Bonnie Fox), Wanda De Jesus (Graciella Rivers), Tina Lifford (Detective Jaye Winston), Paul Rodriguez (Detective Ronaldo Arrango), Dylan Walsh (Detective John Waller), Mason Lucero (Raymond Torres), Gerry Becker (Mr. Toliver), Rick Hoffman (James Lockridge), Alix Koromzay (Mrs. Cordell), Igor Jijikine (Mikhail Bolotov), Dina Eastwood (Reporter #1), Beverly Leech (Reporter #2), June Kyoto Lu (Mrs. Kang), Chao Li Chi (Mr. Kang), Glenn Morshower (Captain), Robert Harvey (Restaurant Manager), Matt Huffman (Young Detective), Mark Thomason (James Cordell), Maria Quiban (Gloria Torres), Brent Hinkley (Cab Driver), Natalia Ongaro (Receptionist), Amanda Carlin (Office Manager), Ted Rooney (Forensics #1), P.J. Byrne (Forensics #2), Sam Jaeger (Deputy), Derric Nugent (L.A.P.D. Officer).
       Synopsis: Still recovering from a heart transplant, a retired FBI profiler returns to service when his own blood analysis offers clues to the identity of a serial killer.
      Comment: Interesting premise is occasionally undone by lapses in logic and implausibilities. The production also feels a little too routine. Eastwood is as charismatic as ever in the lead role, but as director, he fails to inject sufficient suspense, even in its finale. The strongest moments are the character conflicts that arise during the story – notably Eastwood and his doctor Huston as well as with the two cops (Rodriguez and Walsh). It remains an entertaining enough and serviceable mystery despite its flaws.

Film Review – SPACE COWBOYS (2000)

Image result for space cowboys 2000SPACE COWBOYS (USA, 2000) ***½
      Distributor: Warner Bros.; Production Company: Clipsal Films / Mad Chance / Malpaso Productions / Village Roadshow Pictures / Warner Bros.; Release Date: 1 August 2000 (USA), 22 September 2000 (UK); Filming Dates: 19 July 1999 – 19 October 1999; Running Time: 130m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS; Film Format: 35mm, D-Cinema (Texas Instruments DLP 1280 x 1024, 1.9 : 1 anamorphic); Film Process: Panavision (anamorphic); Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1; BBFC Cert: PG.
      Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: Ken Kaufman, Howard Klausner; Executive Producer: Tom Rooker; Producer: Clint Eastwood, Andrew Lazar; Director of Photography: Jack N. Green; Music Composer: Lennie Niehaus; Film Editor: Joel Cox; Casting Director: Phyllis Huffman; Production Designer: Henry Bumstead; Art Director: Jack G. Taylor Jr.; Set Decorator: Richard C. Goddard; Costumes: Deborah Hopper; Make-up: Tania McComas, Francisco X. Pérez; Sound: Bub Asman, Alan Robert Murray; Special Effects: John Palmer; Visual Effects: Nelson Cabrera, Susan Greenhow, Michael Owens, Lisa Todd, Judith Weaver.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Frank Corvin), Tommy Lee Jones (Hawk Hawkins), Donald Sutherland (Jerry O’Neill), James Garner (Tank Sullivan), James Cromwell (Bob Gerson), Marcia Gay Harden (Sara Holland), William Devane (Eugene Davis), Loren Dean (Ethan Glance), Courtney B. Vance (Roger Hines), Barbara Babcock (Barbara Corvin), Rade Serbedzija (General Vostov), Blair Brown (Dr. Anne Caruthers), Jay Leno (Jay Leno), Nils Allen Stewart (Tiny), Deborah Jolly (Cocktail Waitress), Toby Stephens (Young Frank), Eli Craig (Young Hawk), John Asher (Young Jerry), Matt McColm (Young Tank), Billie Worley (Young Gerson), Chris Wylde (Jason), Anne Stedman (Jason’s Girlfriend), James MacDonald (Capcom), Kate McNeil (Female Astronaut #1), Karen M. Waldron (Female Astronaut #2), John Linton (Male Astronaut #1), Mark Thomason (Mission Control Tech), Georgia Emelin (Jerry’s Girlfriend), Rick Scarry (State Department Official), Paul Pender (JBC Security Guard), Tim Halligan (Qualls), Manning Mpinduzi-Mott (Press Reporter #1), Steve Monroe (Waiter), Jean-Michel Henry (Centrifuge Tech), Steven West (Construction Tech), Cooper Huckabee (Trajectory Engineer), Hayden Tank (Boy at NASA Tour), Jock MacDonald (Press Reporter (1958)), Gerald Emerick (T-38 Pilot), Renee Olstead (Little Girl), Don Michaelson (NASA Doctor), Artur Cybulski (Press Reporter #2), Gordy Owens (Simsupe), Steve Stapenhorst (Vice President), Lauren Cohn (Teacher at NASA Tour), Michael Louden (Young Pilot #1), Deborah Hope (Female Engineer), Jon Hamm (Young Pilot #2), Lamont Lofton (KSC Guard), Aleksandr Kuznetsov (Russian Engineer (as Alexander Kuznetsov)), Erica Grant (Female Engineer).
      Synopsis: When a retired engineer is called upon to rescue a failing satellite, he insists that his equally old teammates accompany him into space.
      Comment: Highly entertaining, if wildly implausible, space rescue thriller. It coasts on the charisma of its four veteran leads and generates much humour out of their character interactions. Also impressive are the in-space special and visual effects. Eastwood directs with confidence and generates a fair amount of tension in the movie’s final act. If you can accept the premise you’ll find much to enjoy, just don’t scrutinise the plot too closely.

Film Review – TRUE CRIME (1999)

Image result for true crime 1999TRUE CRIME (USA, 1999) ***½
      Distributor: Warner Bros.; Production Company: Warner Bros. / The Zanuck Company / Malpaso Productions; Release Date: 19 March 1999 (USA), 14 May 1999 (UK); Filming Dates: 4 May 1998 – 26 June 1998; Running Time: 127m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: Larry Gross, Paul Brickman, Stephen Schiff (based on the novel by Andrew Klavan); Executive Producer: Tom Rooker; Producer: Clint Eastwood, Lili Fini Zanuck, Richard D. Zanuck; Director of Photography: Jack N. Green; Music Composer: Lennie Niehaus; Film Editor: Joel Cox; Casting Director: Phyllis Huffman; Production Designer: Henry Bumstead; Art Director: Jack G. Taylor Jr.; Set Decorator: Richard C. Goddard; Costumes: ; Make-up: Tania McComas; Sound: Bub Asman, Alan Robert Murray; Special Effects: John Frazier.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Steve Everett), Isaiah Washington (Frank Louis Beechum), LisaGay Hamilton (Bonnie Beechum), James Woods (Alan Mann), Denis Leary (Bob Findley), Bernard Hill (Warden Luther Plunkitt), Diane Venora (Barbara Everett), Michael McKean (Reverend Shillerman), Michael Jeter (Dale Porterhouse), Mary McCormack (Michelle Ziegler), Hattie Winston (Angela Russel), Penny Bae Bridges (Gail Beechum), Francesca Eastwood (Kate Everett), John Finn (Reedy), Laila Robins (Patricia Findley), Sydney Tamiia Poitier (Jane March), Erik King (Pussy Man), Graham Beckel (Arnold McCardle), Frances Fisher (D.A. Cecilia Nussbaum), Marissa Ribisi (Amy Wilson), Christine Ebersole (Bridget Rossiter), Anthony Zerbe (Henry Lowenstein), Nancy Giles (Leesha Mitchell), Tom McGowan (Tom Donaldson), William Windom (Neil), Don West (Dr. Roger Waters), Lucy Liu (Toy Shop Girl), Dina Eastwood (Wilma Francis), Leslie Griffith (Herself – TV Anchor), Dennis Richmond (TV Anchor), Frank Somerville (Afternoon News Anchor), Dan Green (Field Producer), Nicholas Bearde (Reuben Skycock), Frances Lee McCain (Mrs. Lowenstein), Cecil Williams (Reverend Williams), Casey Lee (Warren Russell), Jack Kehler (Mr. Ziegler), Colman Domingo (Wally Cartwright), Linda Hoy (Counter Woman at Pocum’s Grocery), Danny Kovacs (Atkins), Kelvin Han Yee (Zachary Platt), Kathryn Howell (Nurse), Beulah Stanley (Female Guard), George Maguire (Frederick Robertson), Bill Wattenburg (Radio Reporter), Cathy Fithian (Nancy Larson), Roland T. Abasolo (Guard), Michael Halton (Guard), Jade Marx-Berti (Waitress), Velica Marie Davis (Purse Whacker), John B. Scott (Colonel Drummond), Edward Silva (Colonel Hernandez), Jordan Sax (Colonel Badger), Rob Reece (Executioner), Walter Brown (Beechum Family Member).
      Synopsis: Can an over-the-hill journalist uncover the evidence that can prove a death row inmate’s innocence just hours before his execution?
      Comment: Taut, gripping race-against-time thriller may stretch credibility but is nonetheless well-crafted. Washington delivers a superb performance as the innocent man on death row, whilst Eastwood’s star quality cuts through as the alcoholic and womanising reporter out to clear his name. Hill gives a nicely balanced portrayal as the prison governor at odds with his conscience. A tighter script would have made this an absolute winner, but it too often relies on a significant suspension of disbelief from its audience. Fortunately, due to its strong cast, it just about delivers.

Film Review – ABSOLUTE POWER (1997)

Image result for absolute power 1997ABSOLUTE POWER (USA, 1997) **½
      Distributor: Columbia Pictures; Production Company: Castle Rock Entertainment / Malpaso Productions; Release Date: 4 February 1997 (USA), 30 May 1997 (UK); Filming Dates: 3 June 1996 – 14 August 1996; Running Time: 122m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Dolby Digital | SDDS; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Panavision (anamorphic); Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: William Goldman (based on the novel by David Baldacci); Executive Producer: Tom Rooker; Producer: Clint Eastwood, Karen S. Spiegel; Associate Producer: Michael Maurer; Director of Photography: Jack N. Green; Music Composer: Lennie Niehaus; Film Editor: Joel Cox; Casting Director: Phyllis Huffman; Production Designer: Henry Bumstead; Art Director: Jack G. Taylor Jr.; Set Decorator: Richard C. Goddard, Anne D. McCulley; Costumes: Deborah Hopper; Make-up: Tania McComas, Francisco X. Pérez; Sound: Bub Asman, Alan Robert Murray; Special Effects: Steve Riley.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Luther Whitney), Gene Hackman (President Richmond), Ed Harris (Seth Frank), Laura Linney (Kate Whitney), Scott Glenn (Bill Burton), Dennis Haysbert (Tim Collin), Judy Davis (Gloria Russell), E.G. Marshall (Walter Sullivan), Melora Hardin (Christy Sullivan), Kenneth Welsh (Sandy Lord), Penny Johnson Jerald (Laura Simon), Richard Jenkins (Michael McCarty), Mark Margolis (Red Brandsford), Elaine Kagan (Valerie), Alison Eastwood (Art Student), Yau-Gene Chan (Waiter), George Orrison (Airport Bartender), Charles McDaniel (Medical Examiner), John Lyle Campbell (Repairman), Kimber Eastwood (White House Tour Guide), Eric Dahlquist Jr. (Oval Office Agent), Jack Stewart Taylor (Watergate Doorman), Joy Ehrlich (Reporter), Robert Harvey (Cop).
      Synopsis: A career thief witnesses a horrific crime involving the U.S. President.
      Comment: Highly implausible and lacking in pace, this is made watchable by the presence of Eastwood as the burglar who witnesses the crime and Harris as the cop who tries to hunt him down. Hackman is solid as ever as the President but is given little to work with by the script after the tense opening scenes. Davis’ performance is completely misjudged as if she is acting in another, more comedic, movie. The plot plays out in routine fashion and lacks heightened drama in its climax. A disappointing effort from Eastwood after a golden run.
      Notes: Marshall’s final appearance in a theatrical film.

Film Review – THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY (1995)

Image result for the bridges of madison countyTHE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY (USA, 1995) ****
      Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures; Production Company: Warner Bros. Pictures / Amblin Entertainment / Malpaso Productions; Release Date: 2 June 1995 (USA), 15 September 1995 (UK); Filming Dates: 15 September 1994 – 31 October 1994; Running Time: 135m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: DTS | Dolby Digital; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: 12.
      Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: Richard LaGravenese (based on the novel by Robert James Waller); Producer: Clint Eastwood, Kathleen Kennedy; Associate Producer: Michael Maurer, Tom Rooker; Director of Photography: Jack N. Green; Music Composer: Lennie Niehaus; Music Supervisor: Peter Afterman (uncredited); Film Editor: Joel Cox; Casting Director: Ellen Chenoweth; Production Designer: Jeannine Oppewall; Art Director: William Arnold; Set Decorator: Jay Hart; Costumes: Colleen Kelsall; Make-up: Michael Hancock; Sound: Bub Asman, Alan Robert Murray; Special Effects: Steve Riley.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Robert Kincaid), Meryl Streep (Francesca Johnson), Annie Corley (Carolyn Johnson), Victor Slezak (Michael Johnson), Jim Haynie (Richard Johnson), Sarah Zahn (Young Carolyn), Christopher Kroon (Young Michael), Phyllis Lyons (Betty), Debra Monk (Madge), Richard Lage (Lawyer Peterson), Michelle Benes (Lucy Redfield), Alison Wiegert (Child #1), Brandon Bobst (Child #2), Pearl Faessler (Wife), R.E. ‘Stick’ Faessler (Husband), Tania Mishler (Waitress #1), Billie McNabb (Waitress #2), Art Breese (Cashier), Lana Schwab (Saleswoman), Larry Loury (UPS Driver), James Rivers (James Rivers Band), Mark A. Brooks (James Rivers Band), Peter Cho (James Rivers Band), Eddie Dejean Sr. (James Rivers Band), Jason C. Brewer (James Rivers Band), Kyle Eastwood (James Rivers Band), George Orrison (Café Patron), Ken Billeter (Café Patron), Judy Trask (Café Patron), David Trask (Café Patron), Edna Dolson (Café Patron), Dennis McCool (Café Patron), Michael C. Pommier (Café Patron), Jana Corkrean (Café Patron), M. Jane Seymour (Café Patron), Karla Jo Soper (Café Patron).
      Synopsis: Photographer Robert Kincaid wanders into the life of housewife Francesca Johnson, for four days in the 1960s.
      Comment: A sublime example of how a top-class director and two wonderful central performances can elevate a standard sentimental romantic drama into something much more. Streep is utterly convincing as the Italian housewife falling for Eastwood’s travelling photographer. Eastwood the director knows Streep’s qualities as an actress to inhabit the roles she plays and maximises her contribution, whilst himself producing an atypical sensitive portrayal. Whilst the story offers nothing new to the genre, the interplay between the stars is so powerful as to carry the familiar material through to its logical conclusion.
      Notes: Streep received an Academy Award for Best Actress nomination in 1996 for her performance in the film.

Film Review – A PERFECT WORLD (1993)

A Perfect World (1993)A PERFECT WORLD (USA, 1993) ****
      Distributor: Warner Bros.; Production Company: Warner Bros. / Malpaso Productions; Release Date: 24 November 1993 (USA), 24 December 1993 (UK); Filming Dates: 29 April 1993 – 16 July 1993; Running Time: 138m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Dolby Digital; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Panavision (anamorphic); Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: John Lee Hancock; Producer: Clint Eastwood, Mark Johnson, David Valdes; Director of Photography: Jack N. Green; Music Composer: Lennie Niehaus; Film Editor: Joel Cox, Ron Spang; Casting Director: Phyllis Huffman; Production Designer: Henry Bumstead; Art Director: Jack G. Taylor Jr.; Set Decorator: Alan Hicks; Costumes: Erica Edell Phillips; Make-up: James Lee McCoy, Francisco X. Pérez; Sound: Alan Robert Murray; Special Effects: John Frazier.
      Cast: Kevin Costner (Butch Haynes), Clint Eastwood (Red Garnett), Laura Dern (Sally Gerber), T.J. Lowther (Phillip Perry), Keith Szarabajka (Terry Pugh), Leo Burmester (Tom Adler), Paul Hewitt (Dick Suttle), Bradley Whitford (Bobby Lee), Ray McKinnon (Bradley), Jennifer Griffin (Gladys Perry), Leslie Flowers (Naomi Perry), Belinda Flowers (Ruth Perry), Darryl Cox (Mr. Hughes), Jay Whiteaker (Superman), Taylor Suzanna McBride (Tinkerbell), Christopher Reagan Ammons (Dancing Skeleton), Mark Voges (Larry), Vernon Grote (Prison Guard), James Jeter (Oldtimer), Ed Geldart (Fred Cummings), Bruce McGill (Paul Saunders), Nik Hagler (General Store Manager), Gary Moody (Local Sheriff), George Haynes (Farmer), Marietta Marich (Farmer’s Wife), Rodger Boyce (Mr. Willits), Lucy Lee Flippin (Lucy), Elizabeth Ruscio (Paula), David Kroll (Newscaster), Gabriel Folse (Officer Terrance), Gil Glasgow (Officer Pete), Dennis Letts (Governor), John Hussey (Governor’s Aide), Margaret Bowman (Trick ‘r Treat Lady), John M. Jackson (Bob Fielder), Connie Cooper (Bob’s Wife), Cameron Finley (Bob Fielder, Jr.), Katy Wottrich (Patsy Fielder), Marco Perella (Road Block Officer), Linda Hart (Eileen, Waitress), Brandon Smith (Officer Jones), George Orrison (Officer Orrison), Wayne Dehart (Mack), Mary Alice (Lottie), Kevin Jamal Woods (Cleveland), Tony Frank (Arch Andrews), Woody Watson (Lt. Hendricks).
      Synopsis: A kidnapped boy strikes up a friendship with his captor: an escaped convict on the run from the law, headed by an honourable U.S. Marshal.
      Comment: Intelligent and thoughtful pursuit movie which is driven by Costner’s complex central performance as the escaped prisoner on the run and the remarkable young Lowther as his 8-year-old hostage. Themes of father/son neglect are sensitively handled and the developing relationship between Costner and Lowther is the core of Hancock’s nicely judged script. Eastwood takes more of a back seat as he plays the Texas Ranger on Costner’s tail with Dern’s psychologist in tow. The climax is perfectly judged.