Film Review – NIGHT MOVES (1975)

Related imageNIGHT MOVES (USA, 1975) ****
PRODUCTION: Distributor: Warner Bros. (USA), Columbia-EMI-Warner (UK); Production Company: Warner Bros. / Hiller Productions / Layton Productions / Major Studio Partners; Release Date: 18 March 1975 (USA); Filming Dates: fall/winter 1973; Running Time: 100m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: 18 – child abuse theme.
CREW: Director: Arthur Penn; Writer: Alan Sharp; Producer: Robert M. Sherman; Associate Producer: Gene Lasko; Director of Photography: Bruce Surtees; Music Composer: Michael Small; Film Editor: Dede Allen; Casting Director: Nessa Hyams; Production Designer: George Jenkins; Set Decorator: Ned Parsons; Costumes: Rita Riggs; Make-up: Bob Stein; Sound: Richard P. Cirincione, Craig McKay, Robert M. Reitano; Special Effects: Joe Day, Marcel Vercoutere.
CAST: Gene Hackman (Harry Moseby), Jennifer Warren (Paula), Susan Clark (Ellen), Edward Binns (Ziegler), Harris Yulin (Marty Heller), Kenneth Mars (Nick), Janet Ward (Arlene Iverson), James Woods (Quentin), Anthony Costello (Marv Ellman), John Crawford (Tom Iverson), Melanie Griffith (Delly Grastner), Ben Archibek (Charles), Dennis Dugan (Boy), C.J. Hincks (Girl), Max Gail (Stud), Susan Barrister (Ticket Clerk), Larry Mitchell (Ticket Clerk).
SYNOPSIS: In LA, a private detective is hired by a retired obscure Hollywood actress to find her 16 year-old missing daughter.
COMMENT: Extremely well-acted detective mystery with Hackman delivering a performance of depth as the private eye with things to prove to himself. The complex script focuses as much on character as plot progression and gives the actors plenty to work with and Warren and Clark are notable standouts. The finale contains a neat final twist. The only misstep is Small’s weak score, which fails to build on the tension evident in Sharp’s script and drawn out through Penn’s expert direction and Surtees’ moody photography.

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 – UNFORGIVEN (1992)

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

Film Review – TWILIGHT (1998)

Image result for twilight 1998TWILIGHT (USA, 1998) ***
     Distributor: Paramount Pictures; Production Company: Cinehaus / Paramount Pictures / Scott Rudin Productions; Release Date: 6 March 1998 (USA), 4 December 1998 (UK); Filming Dates: 11 November 1996 – March 1997; Running Time: 95m; Colour: Colour; Sound Mix: Dolby Digital; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: 15 – strong language.
     Director: Robert Benton; Writer: Robert Benton, Richard Russo; Executive Producer: Michael Hausman; Producer: Arlene Donovan, Scott Rudin; Associate Producer: Scott Ferguson, David McGiffert; Director of Photography: Piotr Sobocinski; Music Composer: Elmer Bernstein; Film Editor: Carol Littleton; Casting Director: Ilene Starger; Production Designer: David Gropman; Art Director: David J. Bomba; Set Decorator: Beth A. Rubino; Costumes: Joseph G. Aulisi; Make-up: Bron Roylance; Sound: Maurice Schell; Special Effects: Larry Fioritto, Ric San Nicholas.
     Cast: Paul Newman (Harry Ross), Susan Sarandon (Catherine Ames), Gene Hackman (Jack Ames), Reese Witherspoon (Mel Ames), Stockard Channing (Lt. Verna Hollander), James Garner (Raymond Hope), Giancarlo Esposito (Reuben Escobar), Liev Schreiber (Jeff Willis), Margo Martindale (Gloria Lamar), John Spencer (Capt. Phil Egan), M. Emmet Walsh (Lester Ivar), Peter Gregory (Verna’s Partner), Rene Mujica (Mexican Bartender), Jason Clarke (Young Cop #1), Patrick Malone (Younger Cop), Lewis Arquette (Water Pistol Man), Michael Brockman (Garvey’s Bartender), April Grace (Police Stenographer), Clint Howard (EMS Worker), John Cappon (Paramedic), Neil Mather (Young Cop #2), Ron Sanchez (Crime Scene Detective), Jack Wallace (Interrogation Officer), Jeff Joy (Carl), Jonathan Scarfe (Cop). Uncredited: Stephanie Beaton (Beth Koski), Jennifer Tolkachev (Sunbather), Ron von Gober (Man Walking Down the Street with Boy).
     Synopsis: Private eye Harry Ross lives in the garage of his movie-star, cancer-ridden friend Jack and is attracted to Jack’s wife Catherine. After elderly Lester Ivar shoots at Harry and then dies, Harry learns that Ivar was investigating the disappearance of Catherine’s first husband.
     Comment: Modern neo-film noir tries too hard to create the atmosphere of the 1940s in 1990s LA. The result feels a little incongruous. The strength of the story is with its cast. Newman is as good as ever as the private eye who is torn between his loyalties and doing the right thing. Hackman, Garner and Sarandon all deliver quality performances. Martindale also scores as a chancer with an incompetent accomplice. Bernstein delivers a moody but derivative score. Benton’s script tries hard to be convoluted, but underneath is a straight-forward story of blackmail and murder. The character interaction keeps the plot interesting, but the ultimate solution to the mystery is a little underwhelming.
     Notes: The Ames residence is actually the former Cedric Gibbons-Delores Del Rio home, and a never-completed Frank Lloyd Wright house near Malibu served as the Ames’ ranch house.

Film Review – ENEMY OF THE STATE (1998)

Image result for enemy of the state 1998Enemy of the State (1998; USA; Technicolor; 132m) ***½  d. Tony Scott; w. David Marconi; ph. Daniel Mindel; m. Harry Gregson-Williams, Trevor Rabin.  Cast: Will Smith, Gene Hackman, Jon Voight, Lisa Bonet, Regina King, Stuart Wilson, Loren Dean, Jake Busey, Barry Pepper, Jason Robards, Laura Cayouette, Ian Hart, Scott Caan, Jason Lee, Jack Black. A lawyer becomes a target by a corrupt politician and his NSA goons when he accidentally receives key evidence to a serious politically motivated crime. Exciting and frenetically edited, if slightly overlong, action thriller plays on public paranoia with privacy and mistrust of government. Smith is good as cynical everyman caught up in a conspiracy. Hackman is reliable as ever as surveillance expert who comes to his rescue. Extended version runs to 140m. [15]

Film Review – UNFORGIVEN (1992)

Unforgiven (1992; USA; Technicolor; 131m) ****½  d. Clint Eastwood; w. David Webb Peoples; ph. Jack N. Green; m. Lennie Niehaus.  Cast: Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, Richard Harris, Saul Rubinek, Frances Fisher, Rob Campbell, Anthony James, Shane Meier, Jaimz Woolvett, Anna Levine, David Mucci, Tara Frederick, Liisa Repo-Martell, Beverley Elliott. A retired Old West gunslinger reluctantly takes on one last job, with the help of his old partner and a young man. Eastwood’s revisionist Western strips away the old mythology surrounding the gunfighters and the lawmen, delivering the vulnerable and violent reality of killing. The film is perfectly paced to capture the nuances in the script and the performances of a wonderful cast, with Hackman, Harris, Freeman and Eastwood all turning in note perfect interpretations. Gentle acoustic score by Niehaus adds melancholy to the mix.  Winner of four Oscars: Best Picture; Actor in a Supporting Role (Hackman); Director and Film Editing. Only the third Western to ever win the Best Picture Oscar. The other two being DANCES WITH WOLVES (1990) and CIMARRON (1931). The final screen credit reads, “Dedicated to Sergio and Don”, referring to Eastwood’s mentors, Sergio Leone and Don Siegel. [15]

Film Review – THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE (1972)

Poseidon Adventure, The (1972; USA; DeLuxe; 117m) ∗∗∗∗  d. Ronald Neame, Irwin Allen; w. Stirling Silliphant, Wendell Mayes; ph. Harold E. Stine; m. John Williams.  Cast: Gene Hackman, Red Buttons, Roddy McDowall, Shelley Winters, Leslie Nielsen, Arthur O’Connell, Ernest Borgnine, Carol Lynley, Stella Stevens, Jack Albertson, Pamela Sue Martin, Eric Shea, Fred Sadoff, Sheila Allen, Jan Arvan. A group of passengers struggle to survive and escape, when their ocean liner completely capsizes at sea. Following 1970s AIRPORT, this was the movie that really began the disaster cycle of the 1970s and made Irwin Allen the king of the blockbuster. It’s all-star ensemble cast ensures investment in the characters as well as the spectacle. Excellent production design and tight direction make this the standard for the genre. Won an Oscar for Best Original Song (Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn for the song “The Morning After”). Based on the novel by Paul Gallico. Followed by BEYOND THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE (1979) and remade for TV in 2005 and again for theatrical release as POSEIDON in 2006. [PG]

Film Review – FRENCH CONNECTION II (1975)

French Connection II (1975; USA; DeLuxe; 119m) ∗∗∗∗  d. John Frankenheimer; w. Alexander Jacobs, Robert Dillon, Laurie Dillon; ph. Claude Renoir; m. Don Ellis.  Cast: Gene Hackman, Fernando Rey, Bernard Fresson, Cathleen Nesbitt, Jean-Pierre Castaldi, Charles Millot, Philippe Leotard, Ed Lauter, Samantha Llorens, Andre Penvern, Reine Prat, Ham-Chau Luong, Jacques Dynam, Raoul Delfosse, Malek Kateb. “Popeye” Doyle (Hackman) travels to Marseilles to find Alain Charnier (Rey), the drug smuggler that eluded him in New York. Riveting follow-up to THE FRENCH CONNECTION with a gripping performance by Hackman. The sequence where Hackman is recovering in cold turkey having been captured and fed heroin by Rey is chilling in its authenticity. Great action-packed conclusion as Hackman and his French colleague Fresson close in on the smugglers. Followed by POPEYE DOYLE (1986) (TV). [18]

Film Review – THE FRENCH CONNECTION (1971)

French Connection, The (1971; USA; DeLuxe; 104m) ∗∗∗∗½  d. William Friedkin; w. Ernest Tidyman; ph. Owen Roizman; m. Don Ellis.  Cast: Gene Hackman, Roy Scheider, Fernando Rey, Tony Lo Bianco, Marcel Bozzuffi, Frederic de Pasquale, Bill Hickman, Ann Rebbot, Harold Gary, Arlene Farber, Eddie Egan, Patrick McDermott, Andre Ernotte, Sonny Grosso, Alan Weeks. A pair of NYC cops in the Narcotics Bureau stumble onto a drug smuggling job with a French connection. Brilliantly filmed, gritty and absorbing crime thriller with a superb performance from Hackman as single-minded cop. Shot on streets of New York during a cold winter adding to authentic feel. Winner of five Oscars including Best Film, Actor (Hackman), Director (Friedkin), Adapted Screenplay (Tidyman) and Editing (Greenberg). Based on the book by Robin Moore. Followed by FRENCH CONNECTION II (1975) and POPEYE DOYLE (1986) (TV). [18]

Film Review – ABSOLUTE POWER (1997)

Absolute Power (1997; USA; Technicolor; 122m) ∗∗½  d. Clint Eastwood; w. William Goldman; ph. Jack N. Green; m. Lennie Niehaus.  Cast: Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Ed Harris, Laura Linney, Scott Glenn, Dennis Haysbert, Judy Davis, E. G. Marshall, Melora Hardin, Ken Welsh, Penny Johnson, Richard Jenkins, Alison Eastwood, Kimber Eastwood. A career thief witnesses a horrific crime involving the U.S. President. Highly implausible and lacking in pace, this is made watchable by the quality of the performers – although Davis chews the scenery somewhat in an eccentric portrayal as private secretary to Hackman’s president. Based on the novel by David Baldacci. Marshall’s final appearance in a theatrical film. [15]