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

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

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

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

TV Review – BERGERAC: PICKING IT UP (1981)

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

Film Review – GOODFELLAS (1990)

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

Film Review – COLD PURSUIT (2019)

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

Film Review – THE GODFATHER PART II (1974)

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

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).