Film Review – THE THREE MUSKETEERS (1973)

Related imageTHE THREE MUSKETEERS (THE QUEEN’S DIAMONDS) (Spain/USA/Panama/UK, 1973) ****½
     Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures; Production Company: Alexander, Michael and Ilya Salkind Productions  / Film Trust S.A. / Este Films; Release Date: 25 March 1974 (UK), 28 March 1974 (USA); Filming Dates: May-September 1973; Running Time: 105m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono; Film Format: 35mm (Eastman 100T 5254); Film Process: Panavision, Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: U – Contains mild violence and innuendo.
     Director: Richard Lester; Writer: George MacDonald Fraser (based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas); Executive Producer: Ilya Salkind, Alexander Salkind (uncredited), Michael Salkind (uncredited), Pierre Spengler; Producer: Ilya Salkind; Associate Producer: Wolfdieter von Stein; Director of Photography: David Watkin; Music Composer: Michel Legrand; Music Supervisor: ; Film Editor: John Victor-Smith; Casting Director: Miriam Brickman (uncredited); Production Designer: Brian Eatwell; Art Director: Leslie Dilley, Fernando González; Costumes: Yvonne Blake; Make-up: José Antonio Sánchez, Cristóbal Criado, Charlene Roberson; Sound: Don Challis, Don Sharpe; Special Effects: Pablo Pérez; Visual Effects: .
     Cast: Oliver Reed (Athos), Raquel Welch (Constance de Bonacieux), Richard Chamberlain (Aramis), Michael York (D’Artagnan), Frank Finlay (Porthos / O’Reilly), Christopher Lee (Rochefort), Geraldine Chaplin (Queen Anna), Jean-Pierre Cassel (King Louis XIII), Spike Milligan (M. Bonacieux), Roy Kinnear (Planchet), Georges Wilson (Treville), Simon Ward (Duke of Buckingham), Faye Dunaway (Milady), Charlton Heston (Cardinal Richelieu), Joss Ackland (D’Artagnan’s Father), Nicole Calfan (Kitty), Michael Gothard (Felton), Sybil Danning (Eugenie), Gitty Djamal (Beatrice), Ángel del Pozo (Jussac), Rodney Bewes (Spy), Ben Aris (1st Musketeer), William Hobbs (Assassin), Gretchen Franklin (D’Artagnan’s Mother), Francis De Wolff (Sea Captain).
     Synopsis: The young D’Artagnan (York) arrives in Paris with dreams of becoming a King’s Musketeer. He meets and quarrels with three men, Athos (Reed), Porthos (Finlay), and Aramis (Chamberlain), each of whom challenges him to a duel. D’Artagnan finds out they are Musketeers and is invited to join them in their efforts to oppose Cardinal Richelieu (Heston), who wishes to increase his already considerable power over King Louis XIII (Cassel). D’Artagnan must also juggle affairs with the charming Constance Bonacieux (Welch) and the passionate Lady De Winter (Dunaway), a secret agent for the Cardinal.
     Comment: A joie-de-vivre permeates every frame of Lester’s definitive adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ classic adventure novel. This represents the first half of the story with the second following a year later. The result is a supremely entertaining swashbuckler filled with great sword fights, delicious humour, authentic production design and costumes. The whole cast enter into the spirit of the production with note-perfect performances, whilst Lester’s spirited direction and Watkin’s sumptuous cinematography make for a visual delight. York, Reed, Chamberlain and Finally are well cast as the Musketeers whilst Welch demonstrates a gift for comedy as York’s love interest. Heston is obviously enjoying himself as the scheming Cardinal Richelieu and Dunaway shows promise of what she would go on to deliver in the follow-up.
     Notes: Lester shot the film in conjunction with its sequel, THE FOUR MUSKETEERS (1974). Originally intended as a single film, the split prompted a lawsuit from the cast demanding payment for both films.

Film Review – LAST CHRISTMAS (2019)

Image result for last christmas 2019LAST CHRISTMAS (UK/USA, 2019) ***
     Distributor: Universal Pictures; Production Company: Calamity Films / Feigco Entertainment / Perfect World Pictures / Universal Pictures; Release Date: 8 November 2019 (USA), 15 November 2019 (UK); Running Time: 103m; Colour: Colour; Sound Mix: Dolby Digital; Film Format: DXL RAW; Film Process: DXL RAW (8K); Aspect Ratio: 2.00:1; BBFC Cert: 12 – moderate sex references, language.
     Director: Paul Feig; Writer: Emma Thompson, Bryony Kimmings (based on a story by Emma Thompson and Greg Wise); Executive Producer: Sarah Bradshaw; Producer: Erik Baiers, Jessie Henderson, David Livingstone, Emma Thompson; Associate Producer: Simon Halfon; Director of Photography: John Schwartzman; Music Composer: Theodore Shapiro; Film Editor: Brent White; Casting Director: Alice Searby, Fiona Weir; Production Designer: Gary Freeman; Art Director: Tom Still, Richard Hardy; Set Decorator: Raffaella Giovannetti; Costumes: Renee Ehrlich Kalfus; Make-up: Pippa Woods; Sound: James Mather; Special Effects: Michael Dawson; Visual Effects: Scott Dougherty.
     Cast: Emilia Clarke (Kate), Henry Golding (Tom), Michelle Yeoh (Santa), Emma Thompson (Petra), Lydia Leonard (Marta), Patti LuPone (Joyce), Ingrid Oliver (Police Woman Crowley), Laura Evelyn (Police Woman Churchill), Rebecca Root (Dr. Addis), Sue Perkins (Ice Show Director), Boris Isakovic (Ivan), Maxim Baldry (Ed), Bilal Zafar (Oscar), Michael Addo (Fit Looking Guy), Peter Mygind (The Dane aka ‘Boy’), Rob Delaney (Theater Director), Peter Serafinowicz (Theater Producer), Sara Powell (Casting Director), Ritu Arya (Jenna), Ansu Kabia (Rufus), Fabien Frankel (Fabien), Angela Wynter (Ice Show Casting Director), Ben Owen-Jones (Danny), David Hargreaves (Arthur), Joe Blakemore (Army ‘Tom’), Calvin Demba (Nathan), Anna Calder-Marshall (Dora), Amit Shah (Andy).
     Synopsis: Kate is a young woman subscribed to bad decisions. Her last date with disaster? That of having accepted to work as Santa’s elf for a department store. However, she meets Tom there. Her life takes a new turn. For Kate, it seems too good to be true.
    Comment: A largely tick-box Christmas movie played out against the music of George Michael and Wham makes for diverting entertainment. Thompson and Kimmings’ script crams in all the traditional smarts of the modern-day rom-com whilst offering a twist late in proceedings that is the one genuinely surprising moment. Clarke tries hard, perhaps too hard, in the lead role and as a result, her character struggles for empathy from the audience. Thompson delivers a funny turn as her Yugoslavian mother, but their implied conflict is too easily resolved. Yeoh also scores as the dedicated Christmas store manager where Clarke works as an assistant. The songs are timeless and significantly add to the feel of the movie. Ultimately, despite its final twist, this feels like it wants to be a traditional seasonal feelgood movie to which the occasional political messaging comes across a bit off-key.

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 – SHAFT (2019)

Image result for shaft 2019SHAFT (USA, 2019)
      Distributor: New Line Cinema / Warner Bros. (USA), Netflix (UK); Production Company: Davis Entertainment / Khalabo Ink Society / Netflix / New Line Cinema / Warner Bros.; Release Date: 14 June 2019 (USA), 28 June 2019 (UK); Filming Dates: December 2017 – February 2018; Running Time: 111m; Colour: Colour; Sound Mix: Dolby Digital; Film Format: D-Cinema; Film Process: Digital Intermediate (2K) (master format), Hawk Scope (anamorphic) (source format); Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Tim Story; Writer: Kenya Barris, Alex Barnow (based on the character created by Ernest Tidyman); Executive Producer: Kenya Barris, Richard Brener, Marc S. Fischer, Josh Mack, Ira Napoliello, Tim Story; Producer: John Davis; Director of Photography: Larry Blanford; Music Composer: Christopher Lennertz; Music Supervisor: Trygge Toven; Film Editor: Peter S. Elliot; Casting Director: Tara Feldstein; Art Director: Jeremy Woolsey, Brittany Hites; Set Decorator: Missy Parker; Costumes: Olivia Miles; Make-up: Kimberly Jones; Sound: Sean McCormack; Special Effects: Russell Tyrrell; Visual Effects: Nicole Rowley.
      Cast: Samuel L. Jackson (John Shaft), Jessie T. Usher (JJ Shaft), Richard Roundtree (John Shaft, Sr), Regina Hall (Maya Babanikos), Alexandra Shipp (Sasha Arias), Matt Lauria (Major Gary Cutworth), Titus Welliver (Special Agent Vietti), Method Man (Freddy P), Isaach De Bankolé (Pierro ‘Gordito’ Carrera), Avan Jogia (Karim Hassan), Luna Lauren Velez (Bennie Rodriguez), Robbie Jones (Sergeant Keith Williams), Aaron Dominguez (Staff Sergeant Eddie Dominguez), Ian Casselberry (Manuel Orozco), Almeera Jiwa (Anam), Amato D’Apolito (Farik Bahar), Leland L. Jones (Ron), Jalyn Hall (Harlem Kid), Sylvia Jefferies (Once Beautiful Woman), Whit Coleman (Butch Lesbian Girl), Chivonne Michelle (Baby), Tashiana Washington (Sugar), Philip Fornah (Jacked Dude), Laticia Rolle (Cocktail Waitress), Ryan King Scales (Male Secretary), Tywayne Wheatt (Portly Doorman), Kenny Barr (Cop), Mike Dunston (News Anchor), Jordan Preston Carter (5-8 Year Old JJ), Nyah Marie Johnson (5-8 Year Old Sasha), Joey Mekyten (5-8 Year Old Karim), Sawyer Schultz (Mike Mitchell), Esmeree Sterling (Cute Bartender), Jose Miguel Vasquez (FBI Employee), Gabriel ‘G-Rod’ Rodriguez (Goon), Keith Brooks (Drunk Disorderly Man), DominiQue MrsGiJane Williams (Beautiful Woman), Michael Shikany (Older Man in Mosque), Lucia Scarano (Lady in Line), Greta Quispe (Employee), Heather Seiffert (Hostess), Charles Green (Hallway Man), Dorothi Fox (Old Lady Neighbor), Shakur Sozahdah (Worshiper).
      Synopsis: John Shaft Jr., a cybersecurity expert with a degree from MIT, enlists his family’s help to uncover the truth behind his best friend’s untimely death.
      Comment: Misguided continuation of the Shaft legacy is one misstep after another. Firstly Story re-tools the franchise as an action comedy that attempts to wring laughs from the generation gap separating Jackson’s John Shaft II from his son JJ, played far too broadly by Usher. Jackson’s Shaft also suffers by being made into a caricature of the character he portrayed in the 2000 series continuation. Jackson does what he tends to do best but even he gives a one-note performance that lacks nuance. The plot thread that brings the two Shafts together is given scant focus by an incredibly lazy script by Barris and Barnow.  The plot is frequently abandoned to demonstrate time after time the un-PC Jackson vs the PC Usher through a series of increasingly tiresome jokes and one-liners. Roundtree, as the original John Shaft, appears late in the proceedings and delivers the best performance with a dry understated delivery that has more class than is seen in his character namesakes. Lennertz’s score is insipid, lacking the grooves of Isaac Hayes’ 1971 music, and fails to add anything to the franchise whilst it is constantly interspersed with rap numbers that only serve to give you a headache. Even the use of Hayes’ theme is mishandled removing all elements of cool. To say I was disappointed in this destruction of Ernest Tidyman’s legacy is an understatement. My advice to Shaft fans is to stick to the originals, or better still the books. If there is any future for the franchise on screen it would be better served making reference to David F Walker’s recent comic books series prequel and rebooting the series set in period as a serious crime thriller.
      Notes: Most of the movie was shot in Atlanta, doubling for New York.

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 – 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 – 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 – BRONCO BILLY (1980)

Image result for bronco billy 1980BRONCO BILLY (USA, 1980) ***½
      Distributor: Warner Bros. (USA), Columbia-Warner Distributors (UK); Production Company: Warner Bros. / Second Street Films; Release Date: 11 June 1980 (USA), 17 July 1980 (UK); Filming Dates: October – November 1979; Running Time: 116m; Colour: DeLuxe; Sound Mix: Mono; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: PG.
      Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: Dennis Hackin; Executive Producer: Robert Daley; Producer: Neal H. Dobrofsky, Dennis Hackin; Associate Producer: Fritz Manes; Director of Photography: David Worth; Music Supervisor: Snuff Garrett; Film Editor: Joel Cox, Ferris Webster; Art Director: Eugène Lourié; Set Decorator: Ernie Bishop; Costumes: Glenn Wright; Make-up: Thomas Tuttle; Sound: Bert Hallberg; Special Effects: Jeff Jarvis.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Bronco Billy), Sondra Locke (Antoinette Lily), Geoffrey Lewis (John Arlington), Scatman Crothers (Doc Lynch), Bill McKinney (Lefty LeBow), Sam Bottoms (Leonard James), Dan Vadis (Chief Big Eagle), Sierra Pecheur (Lorraine Running Water), Walter Barnes (Sheriff Dix), Woodrow Parfrey (Dr. Canterbury), Beverlee McKinsey (Irene Lily), Doug McGrath (Lt. Wiecker), Hank Worden (Station Mechanic), William Prince (Edgar Lipton), Pam Abbas (Mother Superior), Eyde Byrde (Maid Eloise), Douglas Copsey (Reporter at Bank), John Wesley Elliott Jr. (Sanatorium Attendant), Chuck Hicks (Cowboy at Bar), Bob Hoy (Cowboy at Bar), Jefferson Jewell (Boy at Bank), Dawneen Lee (Bank Teller), Don Mummert (Chauffeur), Lloyd Nelson (Sanatorium Policeman), George Orrison (Cowboy in Bar), Michael Reinbold (King), Tessa Richarde (Mitzi Fritts), Cha Cha Sandoval-McMahon (Doris Duke), Valerie Shanks (Sister Maria), Sharon Sherlock (License Clerk), James Simmerman (Bank Manager), Roger Dale Simmons (Reporter at Bank), Jenny Sternling (Reporter at Sanatorium), Chuck Waters (Bank Robber), Jerry Wills (Bank Robber).
      Synopsis: An idealistic, modern-day cowboy struggles to keep his Wild West show afloat in the face of hard luck and waning interest.
      Comment: Low-key but charming Eastwood comedy vehicle has much philosophical to say about corporate greed and the need for a simpler way of life using Western values as its basis. Its comedy is geared around the clash of counter-cultures and only occasionally lapses into more broader territory. A strong supporting cast is headed by Locke’s self-centred rich-heiress who falls in with Eastwood’s crew when suffering deception at the hands of Lewis’ gold-digging suitor. Eastwood directs with a sensitive eye for comic timing and delivers a charismatic lead performance.

Film Review – ANY WHICH WAY YOU CAN (1980)

Image result for any which way you canANY WHICH WAY YOU CAN (USA, 1980) **½
      Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures (USA), Columbia-EMI-Warner (UK); Production Company: The Malpaso Company / Warner Bros. Pictures; Release Date: 17 December 1980 (USA), 18 December 1980 (UK); Filming Dates: 5 May – July 1980; Running Time: 116m; Colour: DeLuxe; Sound Mix: Stereo; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Buddy Van Horn; Writer: Stanford Sherman (based on characters created by Jeremy Joe Kronsberg); Executive Producer: Robert Daley; Producer: Fritz Manes; Director of Photography: David Worth; Music Supervisor: Snuff Garrett; Film Editor: Ron Spang, Ferris Webster; Casting Director: Marion Dougherty (uncredited); Production Designer: William J. Creber; Set Decorator: Ernie Bishop; Costumes: Glenn Wright; Make-up: Joe McKinney; Sound: Bert Hallberg; Special Effects: Chuck Gaspar, Jeff Jarvis.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Philo Beddoe), Sondra Locke (Lynn Halsey-Taylor), Geoffrey Lewis (Orville), William Smith (Jack Wilson), Harry Guardino (James Beekman), Ruth Gordon (Ma), Michael Cavanaugh (Patrick Scarfe), Barry Corbin (Fat Zack), Roy Jenson (Moody), Bill McKinney (Dallas), William O’Connell (Elmo), John Quade (Cholla), Al Ruscio (Tony Paoli Sr.), Dan Vadis (Frank), Camila Ashland (Hattie), Beans Morocco (Baggage Man), Michael Brockman (Moustache Officer), Julie Brown (Candy), Glen Campbell (Glen Campbell), Richard Christie (Jackson Officer), Rebecca Clemons (Buxom Bess), Reid Cruickshanks (Bald Headed Trucker), Michael Currie (Wyoming Officer), Gary Lee Davis (Husky Officer), Dick Durock (Joe Casey), Michael Fairman (CHP Captain), James Gammon (Bartender), Weston Gavin (Beekman’s Butler), Lance Gordon (Biceps), Lynn Hallowell (Honey Bun), Peter Hobbs (Motel Clerk), Art LaFleur (Baggage Man #2), Ken Lerner (Tony Paoli Jr.), John McKinney (Officer), Robin Menken (Tall Woman), George Murdock (Sgt. Cooley), Jack Murdock (Little Melvin), Ann Nelson (Harriet), Sunshine Parker (Old Codger), Kent Perkins (Trucker), Anne Ramsey (Loretta Quince), Logan Ramsey (Luther Quince), Michael Reinbold (Officer with Glasses), Tessa Richarde (Sweet Sue), Jeremy Smith (Intern), Bill Sorrells (Bakersfield Officer), Jim Stafford (Long John), Michael Talbott (Officer Morgan), Mark L. Taylor (Desk Clerk), Jack Thibeau (Head Muscle), Charles Walker (Officer), Jerry Brutsche (Black Widow), Orwin C. Harvey (Black Widow), Larry Holt (Black Widow), John Nowak (Black Widow), Walter Robles (Black Widow), Mike Tillman (Black Widow).
      Synopsis: A bare-knuckle fighter decides to retire, but when the Mafia come along and arrange another fight, he is pushed into it. A motorcycle gang and an orangutan called Clyde all add to the ‘fun’.
      Comment: Sequel to 1978’s EVERY WHICH WAY BUT LOOSE is a more enjoyable movie. Amping up the comedy and removing some of the mean-spiritedness of the original, the result is an extremely lightweight but sometimes fun movie. Anyone looking for depth of character or development should look elsewhere. Those looking for broad laughs, slapstick and cartoon-like characters will likely find something to enjoy here. Eastwood seems more relaxed with the comedy and whilst Lewis and Locke are more marginalised, the role of Clyde is dialled up for comedic effect.
      Notes: Filmed in the California communities of Sun Valley, North Hollywood, and Bakersfield, and in Jackson, Wyoming.

Film Review – THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT (1974)

Image result for thunderbolt and lightfoot 1974THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT (USA, 1974) ***½
      Distributor: United Artists; Production Company: The Malpaso Company; Release Date: 22 May 1974 (USA), 19 September 1974 (UK); Filming Dates: July – September 1973; Running Time: 115m; Colour: DeLuxe; Sound Mix: Mono; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Panavision (anamorphic); Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1; BBFC Cert: 18.
      Director: Michael Cimino; Writer: Michael Cimino; Producer: Robert Daley; Director of Photography: Frank Stanley; Music Composer: Dee Barton; Film Editor: Ferris Webster; Casting Director: Patricia Mock; Art Director: Tambi Larsen; Set Decorator: James L. Berkey; Costumes: Jules Melillo; Make-up: Joe McKinney; Sound: Bert Hallberg, Norman Webster; Special Effects: Sass Bedig.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Thunderbolt), Jeff Bridges (Lightfoot), George Kennedy (Red Leary), Geoffrey Lewis (Eddie Goody), Catherine Bach (Melody), Gary Busey (Curly), Jack Dodson (Vault Manager), Eugene Elman (Tourist), Burton Gilliam (Welder), Roy Jenson (Dunlop), Claudia Lennear (Secretary), Bill McKinney (Crazy Driver), Vic Tayback (Mario Pinski), Dub Taylor (Station Attendant), Gregory Walcott (Used Car Salesman), Erica Hagen (Waitress), Alvin Childress (Janitor), Virginia Baker (Couple at Station), Stuart Nisbet (Couple at Station), Irene K. Cooper (Cashier), Cliff Emmich (The Fat Man), June Fairchild (Gloria), Ted Foulkes (Young Boy), Leslie Oliver (Teenager), Mark Montgomery (Teenager), Karen Lamm (Girl on Motorcycle), Luanne Roberts (Suburban Housewife), Lila Teigh (Tourist).
      Synopsis: With the help of an irreverent young sidekick, a bank robber gets his old gang back together to organise a daring new heist.
      Comment: Road movie turns into heist movie in this entertaining vehicle for Eastwood and Bridges. The plot is initially slight and the pace slow as we are introduced to the two misfit loners. Once Kennedy and Bridges enter the story the character interplay becomes the main focus and the pace quickens as the quartet take to work to raise money to fund their heist. The tone swings from comedy to melodrama to violent action but is generally well-handled by Cimino on his directorial debut. Bridges delivers a superb and believably natural performance and Eastwood generously gives him centre stage. Kennedy too stands out as Eastwood’s stubbornly proud ex-partner.
      Notes: Cimino modelled this movie after one of his favourite films, CAPTAIN LIGHTFOOT (1955). Bridges was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award.